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Part VII : Reproduction in Flowering Plants

Fruits and Seeds
Seed Germination
Conditions necessary for Germination
Development of the Embryo
Fruits and Seeds Summary (useful for revision)
Fruits and Seeds : Questions

Flowers and Reproduction
The Structure of Insect Pollinated Flowers
Pollinating Mechanisms
Wind-pollinated flowers

Topic Chapters Index

 

Lime fruits, Bristol, UK © Shirley Burchill 

Lime fruits use the wind for dispersal
of their seeds

 

Dandelion 'clock'  © Paul Billiet

The dandelion fruits are dispersed
by the wind

 

Dried fruit pod which has ejected its seeds © Paul Billiet

Dried fruit pod which has ejected its seeds

REPRODUCTION IN PLANTS

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Other Methods of Dispersal

 

Dispersal using the Wind

Some carpels develop into fruits with thin wing-like structures attached to them. When these fruits are mature they break off the plant and, instead of falling straight to the ground, are taken by the wind. Their wing-like extensions cause them slowly to spiral their way down to the ground. In this way the wind moves them away from the parent plant. The sycamore, ash and maple all produce fruits of this type.

In some fruits the carpels keep their styles and stigmas as they develop into fruits. The style and the stigma change into a type of feathery parachute which is blown away in the wind. The dandelion clock is made from hundreds of these parachute fruits, each containing a seed.

Poppies have fruits which develop into a dry capsule with little holes around the top. There are thousands of tiny seeds inside the capsule. The poppy fruit develops at the end of a long, flexible stalk. When this stalk sways in the wind, the seeds are shaken out of the capsule through the holes at the top. The seeds are so light that they remain in the air and move a long way from the parent plant before they fall to the ground.

 

Dispersal using Water

 

Coconut halves  © Paul Billiet

 

This method of dispersal is used by many plants living near moving water but is not used by many land plants. Some coconuts fall into sea water and are washed up on the shores of tropical islands many thousands of kilometres away. Here, if the conditions are suitable, they may germinate into young palms.

 

Fact File No.36

The coconut fruit is an important food in the tropics. The coconut palm reaches 30 metres in height. It is well adapted to living in tropical regions; its long, slender trunk is resistant to hurricanes because it bends easily in high winds but does not break. The leaves are at the top of the tree and the flowers grow at the base of the older leaves.

Each coconut palm produces between 50 and 100 coconuts each year. The coconuts provide a liquid called coconut milk and a white solid food. When this white solid food has been dried out it is called copra. Coconut oil can be produced from the copra.

 

Other Mechanisms

Some plants produce fruits called pods which contain rows of seeds inside them. When these fruits dry out the two sides of the pod suddenly separate, sometimes with such violence that t he seeds are thrown far away from the parent plant. Peas and lupins are two examples of plants that develop pods. This sudden separation sometimes produces a popping sound and this can be heard on the moor in late summer when there are broom and gorse bushes around.

The squirting cucumber grows into a large fruit with its seeds floating in a liquid inside its thick skin. When the cucumber becomes too heavy for the plant, it falls to the ground. The pressure produced as it hits the ground forces the liquid containing the seeds out of one end of the fruit. The seeds are literally squirted away.

 

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