Hello from the Garden

Seed Dispersal

Have you ever wondered how plants manage to arrive into your garden, and yet you have no idea where they came from. Last year Ragwort arrived in our garden even though there’s none of it growing in the area. Ragwort is known as a noxious weed (you can look that one up on Mr Google) so it’s not a good plant to have around!

If all the seeds of a tree for example fell to the ground below, and self seeded, it probably wouldn’t survive because the parent tree would take all the light, water and food needed for the seedling to grow. That’s why it’s a good idea to dig up little tree seedlings and give them a new home, so they have some chance of survival.

As plants can’t move around like we can, Nature has to figure out a way of moving (dispersing) the seed, so the seed can have the right conditions to grow.

Some of the ways seeds are carried away are:

  1. Blown by the wind
  2. Carried away by water
  3. Eaten by birds and animals and the seeds are then deposited in their droppings

The lovely yellow flowers of the Dandelions (see above) have started turning into fluffy seed heads. When we were small, dandelions used to be called clocks because we would tell the time by the number of puffs it took to blow away the seed.

So on your walk today, see if you can find any dandelion seed heads and tell what time it is. Pick one and blow softly on it and watch the seeds float away ( so we too disperse seed). You must count each puff until all the seed is blown away -an hour per puff ie one o’clock, two o’clock…… were you right?

In weather folklore, the dandelion seed head is used to forecast rain. In fine weather, the seed head remains full, but when rain approaches, it shuts like an umbrella. So the next time, rain is forecast, go out and have a look, and see if it’s true!