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Understanding Seeds

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Seeds. You buy them in packets. You sow them in the soil and they turn into living beauty, and the very source of our survival. Understanding a plant’s family history can offer clues to how its seeds will act in the garden.


The history of flowering plants goes back 160 million years, and the fossil record suggests that they evolved quickly from their early beginnings. Today, flowering plant species number more than 300,000. The diversity of shapes and mechanisms in seeds is no less impressive. Each has a structure, a mode of dispersal, and a shelf life. Some germinate almost instantly; others take weeks to show their green.