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Seed Dispersal

What is seed dispersal?

The scattering or spreading of seeds to different places is called seed dispersal.

Let’s talk about seed dispersal with this lesson.


If all seeds of a plant fall under the parent plant they will grow crowded together and many will die because of lack of space or air, water, sunlight and minerals. Therefore, it is better seeds getting scattered far and wide and have a better chance of growing in a suitable place without over crowding.

dandelion seed dispersal


So, let’s talk about how seeds get dispersed by wind, water, animals and also, what types of features do seeds have to get dispersed through this lesson.

thistle seed dispersal

oleander seed dispersal


What are the main factors (conditions) that plants need to grow?

  • Sunlight
  • Water
  • Space or air>
  • Warmth
  • Minerals


What are the special features of seeds to disperse seeds?

  • Some seeds are sticky and have hooks.
  • Some seeds have wings.
  • Some seeds have hairy parachutes.
  • Some seeds are in pods.
  • Some seeds have small holes in them.
  • Some seeds have spongy layers of fibres around them.
  • Some seeds have smaller spongy coverings.


Examples of special features of seeds for dispersing seeds

Sticky and have hooks


Hairy parachutes



Spongy layers of fibres

Spongy coverings







Water lilies






Alder tree








seed dispersal dandelion

Examples of seed dispersal by wind
A dandelion seed dispersed by the wind

seed dispersal thistle


seed dispersal thistle seeds

Examples of seed dispersal by wind
A dried thistle has many seeds with hairy parachutes which can be dispersed by wind


seed dispersal sycamore


seed dispersal sycamore seeds parts

Examples of seed dispersal by wind
This is a dried sycamore fruit which bears many seeds with wings which can be dispersed by wind


Who are the agents of seed dispersal?

  • Wind
  • Water
  • Animals




seed dispersal by wind


Examples of seed dispersal by wind, water and animals


Examples of seed dispersal by wind;


Seeds which have wings and hairy parachutes on them are carried by the wind.

E.g. – sycamore, ash, maple, lime, dandelion and thistle


When pods dry, they split open suddenly and shooting the seeds away from the parent plant and this is easy when the wind is there.

E.g. – peas, lupins, laburnum and gorse

Some seeds have small holes in them, so they are very light in weight. When the wind rocks the plant, the seeds are scattered as if from a pepper pot.

E.g. – poppy and orchid fruits



Examples of seed dispersal by water;

Some seeds have spongy layers of fibres around them. These can trap air so the seeds can float. These seeds can travel, sometimes for hundreds of kilometers, from one island to another.

E.g. – Coconut

coconut tree seed dispersal


Some seeds have smaller spongy coverings which lets them float in lakes and rivers.

E.g. – water lilies, alder trees


Examples of seed dispersal by animals;


Brightly coloured and juicy fruits are often eaten by animals like birds. The hard seeds inside these fruits pass out of the animal’s body in its droppings.

E.g. – blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries

The seeds may finish up a long way from where they were first eaten.
Animals like squirrels and jays bury some nuts, ready to eat later. These animals often forget where they have hidden their food, and some of these seeds can grow.
squirrels birds seed dispersal

Some seeds and fruits have hooks that catch on the fur or feathers of animals or on people’s clothes. If the seeds eventually drop off on the soil, they may grow.

E.g. – goosegrass, burdock, wood avens


Examples of seed dispersal by humans;


seed dispersal by people

Examples of seeds with hooks that catch on people’s clothes and shoes


Try our ‘Quiz 1′ and ‘Quiz 2′ on seed dispersal.