Seeds are a way for plants to reproduce themselves. They contain an embryonic plant and a reserve of food in a protective seed coat. In addition, they have special appendages that help them disperse. Some seeds have hooks and barbs that attach to animal fur or feathers; others have wings for wind dispersal.
They are the reproductive organs of plants
Seeds are fertilized ovules enclosed in a protective covering called a seed coat and a food reserve called endosperm. They are considered the propagating organs of spermatophytes, which include the nonvascular bryophytes (mosses, liverworts and hornworts) and the vascular plants (gymnosperms and angiosperms). Seeds usually have one or two cotyledons. The cotyledons are a source of food for the embryo until it is able to make its own food. Some seeds have appendages that help in dispersal. These include a wing (e.g. pine) or a spindle-like structure (e.g. cotton). A scar (raphe) often remains on the seed coat where it was attached to the funicle and ovary wall (funiculus or ostrum). The micropyle, the small pore that opened during the fertilization of the megagametophyte, is also usually preserved as a small opening in the seed coat.
The seeds of many flowering plants are surrounded by fruits, the mature ripened ovaries of flowers. Flowers are modified leaves and they produce a fruit to contain one or many seeds. The haploid male gametes, pollen, are produced by the anther in the androecium of the flower, and the haploid female gametes, eggs, are formed in the gynoecium.
They are a source of food
Seeds are the primary source of many foods including grains, legumes, nuts, and cocoa. They also provide essential oils and are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fats. Seeds are also used to propagate crops like cereals, forest trees, turfgrasses, and pasture grasses. Seeds can be harvested from plants that have ripened and fallen, or they can be collected from wild plants. Various seed fibers are also extracted from seeds such as cotton, flax, and kapok. Oils from linseed, rapeseed, and castor beans are also derived from seeds.
Seeds are a great source of protein, healthy fats, and fibre. They are also low in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated fats, which help reduce cholesterol. However, they are also a rich source of calories and should be eaten in small quantities. Many seeds also contain vitamin A, which is necessary for eye health. They can be eaten raw or added to salads and soups.
They are a resource for farmers and gardeners
Seeds provide a number of benefits to farmers and gardeners. They contain nutrients for the embryo inside, are a means of plant reproduction and distribution, and help plants adapt to changing conditions. They also play a role in natural selection, and serve as a link between two generations of plants.
Seed saving involves collecting and storing seeds from a crop for future use. It’s an important part of the sustainable food movement and is closely linked to the food sovereignty and food justice movements. Many gardeners use the seed-saving process to avoid purchasing seeds from large commercial seed companies.
When selecting seeds, it’s important to keep in mind that seed quality and viability depends on storage temperature and humidity levels. Keeping seeds in cool, dry conditions will improve their longevity and viability. Seeds stored in mason jars or buckets should be labeled with the name of the variety and the date of harvest. It’s also a good idea to put the seeds in a fridge for added protection.
They are a source of genetic diversity
Seeds are a source of genetic diversity that can help address some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including hunger and biodiversity loss. They can also be used for conservation purposes. However, the genetic diversity available from seeds has rarely been reported.
In addition to being a rich source of genetic diversity, seeds provide a better start than spores for a new plant. This is because they usually contain larger food reserves and multicellularity, and they are able to be dispersed. In contrast, spores are limited in size and may not be able to withstand harsh conditions.
The genetic diversity of seeds has only been assessed in a small number of species, most of which are crop varieties. This limits meaningful assessments against conservation targets. For instance, the genetic representation of seeds of non-endospermic dicotyledons (such as phaseolus vulgaris) is only known to be high if they are stored at cold temperatures for a long period of time.