Seeds contain an embryo and food reserves, all enclosed in a protective outer covering. They are able to remain dormant for years. Seeds require ideal environmental conditions to grow into new plants.
Start seeds indoors in plastic seed trays or containers of any kind (old yoghurt pots, etc). Check the seed packet for instructions on how deep to plant the seeds. Most seeds should be covered lightly with potting mix.
It contains an embryo
Seeds are tiny packages of genetic information that can grow into a complete plant. They contain a miniature undeveloped plant embryo in the company of stored food, and are surrounded by a protective coat (the testa). The core of a seed is its embryo, which includes the earliest forms of roots, stems, and leaves. The embryo is protected by a thin layer of material called the seed coat and its contents (called endosperm). In some seeds, the embryo is also covered with a covering tissue called the aleurone.
The embryo may have one or two small leaves, which are called cotyledons, attached to its embryonic axis. These cotyledons provide the initial supply of nutrients for the seedling. Plants with one cotyledon are called monocots, such as wheat and corn; those with two cotyledons are called dicots, including plants like tomatoes and beans.
The embryo is usually dormant until conditions are favorable for germination. In many cases, this dormancy is caused by physiological causes such as a lack of nutrients or enzymatic inhibition. In other cases, it is induced by light and moisture.
It can stay dormant for years
Seed dormancy allows seeds to survive periods of unfavourable conditions until they can germinate. The process is complex and involves a wide range of tissues. It is thought to involve genes of both maternal (testa) and zygotic origin. The germination of seeds is also affected by the activities of DNA repair enzymes.
Some seeds have a hard or thick seed coat that inhibits germination. This type of physical dormancy can be broken by soaking or scarifying the seed. Other seeds have internal chemical or metabolic dormancy that prevents germination. This can be broken by leaching the seed, cold or moist stratification, or fire scarification.
The underlying cause of seed dormancy is the accumulation of DNA damage in the zygotic tissues of the embryo and endosperm. This damage is triggered by environmental stress and seed age. The enzymatic repair of these damaged seeds is crucial for germination. The mechanism is not fully understood, but it may involve a family of DNA ligases.
It can be carried by animals
Seeds are the characteristic reproductive body of angiosperms and gymnosperms (conifers and cycads). They consist of a miniature undeveloped plant embryo, a store of food, and a protective coat.
The seeds of many trees and shrubs are adapted to be carried by animals. These seeds are typically enclosed in fleshy fruits that are attractive to frugivores, and the animals disperse the seeds by eating them. This process is called endozoochory.
However, the retention time of a seed in the animal’s gut can vary greatly according to its size, its properties, and the make up of the animal’s diet. It can also be influenced by whether the animal is full at the moment of passage or if it has recently cached other seeds.
Despite these obstacles, some plants rely on animals for seed dispersal. For example, the New Zealand pigeon is an important disperser of the fruit-bearing tree Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae. It is unfortunate that the species is declining in population due to predators and competition with introduced mammals.
It can be eaten
Seeds can be eaten in a number of ways. They may be cooked or ground into a meal or snack. They can also be eaten raw. Seeds are a good source of protein and can be eaten with a variety of other foods. The best way to eat seeds is to use your molars (chewing teeth). This method helps avoid the seed slipping between your gums and getting crushed.
Sunflower seeds, for example, are a popular snack food. They are a good source of protein and have many health benefits. They are also high in dietary fiber, which is essential for digestive health. They can help prevent issues like hemorrhoids, diverticulitis and constipation. They can also reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels. In addition to promoting gastrointestinal health, they contain beneficial phytoestrogens and antioxidants that may protect against oxidative stress. They can even help reduce symptoms of menopause and PMS. Moreover, they are a good source of magnesium, which is important for nerve and muscle function.