Stuck on seeds October 15, 2007
An interesting book by Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire states, " Plants are so unlike people that is is very difficult for us to appreciate fully their complexity and sophistication. Yet plants have been evolving, much, much longer than we have, have been inventing new strategies for survival... And so about a few hundred million years ago plants stumbled on a way- actually a few thousand ways - of getting animals to carry them, and their genes, here and there."
While chasing sparrows about wild and weedy fields this weekend, I encountered any number of ways seeds have evolved. A photographic "sock check" shows quite a varied collection of forms for transporting plant genes. The big one of the right is pretty familiar, it is one of the Clotburs, or Xanthium species. Look at the curved hooks that easily cling to socks, groundhogs and passing dogs. It is said the inventor of Velcro was inspired by this clever form in nature.
The long narrow Tick-seeds or stick-tights are from the Bidens family, and the triangular seeds that often form a line are the Tick-trefoils, or Desmodiums. These are just three of the many forms that plants have adapted to enlist fauna in their efforts to expand into new territory. And when I shake out my shoes... voila, the grass seeds. But, it would take someone far more qualified than me to sort those out by their seed!