|What would happen if we didn't have seeds?|
|Question Date: 2018-03-27|
You asked what would happen if we didn't have
seeds. Great question, a lot!
I think a good starting place to answer your
question would be to ask - Why do we have
seeds? What are they for?
Plants make seeds as a means to reproduce
and spread. An oak tree starts as a small
acorn, which grows and develops into a large tree.
That tree will produce thousands of acorns which
will then each become new oak trees. So seeds
exist as a way for plants to create new
generations. In fact, one of the properties
that makes something a living thing (versus a
non-living, inanimate object) is that it tries to
reproduce, make copies of itself and spread.
So if all living things reproduce, and seeds
are a means of reproducing - what would the
world look like if there were no seeds? Well,
there are a number of ways that organisms
reproduce without seeds. Bacteria and
microbes do cell division, where they make
a duplicate copy of their DNA and literally split
in half; at the end of the process there are 2
identical bacteria where there initially was just
one bacterium. Some plants can do something called
'vegetative reproduction' where you can cut
off a branch from the plant and the cut branch
will sprout roots out of the bottom and behave
just like the original plant as a clone. So if
'seeds' as a mechanism for reproduction had never
evolved, a lot of plants that we see today might
use alternative methods for reproducing.
Another interesting thought is what would
happen to all the life that depend on seeds
existing. Kangaroo rats and other small mammals
eat seeds, birds eat seeds, some insects eat
seeds - all of those organisms would have to
find another way to make a living if seeds
suddenly disappeared off the face of the planet.
Seeds are so important, that people have actually
started harvesting seeds of all different plant
species and have started storing them away in seed
vaults at very cold temperatures, just as an
insurance policy in case something dramatic
happened that threatened all the seeds above
ground. (you can read more about this famous one
saving seeds ).
~ Katherine LeVan, PhD
Ecologist at the National Ecological Observatory
While it might seem that no seeds would mean no
plants, other mechanisms of reproduction
Spores, tubers, and asexual reproduction
are all used by various types of plants. While the
world would look different, seeds are not a
requirement for the existence of the
vegetation which is so important to the rest
of life on Earth.
Before there were seeds, there weren't any people.
There were plants like ferns that reproduced with
There is an article on the Internet "Seed Banks
for Preserving World Food". There's a lot of
interesting stuff in the article. It's also a bit
unusual, because the site is for people who want
to be able to survive on their own.
" If we didn’t have plants, we would not only have
a food problem; we would have an atmospheric
problem. Our very existence depends on plants."
Not all plants have seeds. Ferns and mosses do
not. Unfortunately for us, ferns and mosses aren't
very edible to us humans, so we would probably
starve. Life on land existed for millions of years
before seeds evolved, however, and the insects and
other animals on land then did just fine.
This is a really fun question because it’s easy
to assume that all plants grow from seeds, but
this actually isn’t true. Many plants like
mosses and ferns don’t use seeds at all!
These plants release spores into the wind which
then blow to far away areas and grow up into new
plants. So if plants don’t need seeds, why do
they exist? Seeds have a variety of functions
for developing plants. For one, they serve as a
shield against the environment. Seeds might
be eaten along with fruit, stepped on, or dropped
from a large height, but the outer shell of the
seed protects the plant inside. Furthermore,
the seed contains food for the plant to eat
while it waits to grow. This allows the young
plant to wait until it is in an ideal environment
to grow. Without this store of nutrients, the
plant would have to emerge from its seed very
quickly and that could be dangerous if the
conditions were not right. Seeds are a really
important adaptation that many plants have and
while they are not completely necessary, they make
a young plant’s life much easier. Thank you for
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