Most plants reproduce by making seeds, which sprout and grow into new plants. To produce seeds, plants must be fertilized by pollen, usually from another plant of the same species (kind). Many plants rely on insects, such as bees and butterflies, to spread pollen. Seeds are mostly spread by animals that eat the fruit produced by plants, and by the wind. In some plants, such as those in rainforests, seed may also carried by water. The plants in your local area disperse (spread) their seeds in these ways, too. In the company of an adult, you can survey the seeds and plants in the local woods.
You will need: Eight pegs, yardstick or tape measure, string, field guide, pen, notebook, colored pencils and pens, graph paper.
1. Choose a patch of ground to sample and put in a peg. Measure 1 yard with the ruler, and put in another peg. Stretch and tie a piece of string between the pegs.
2. Now measure the remaining sides, pushing in two more pegs and stretching and tying string between them to mark out one square yard.
3. Measure and mark the midpoint of each piece of stretched string with pegs. Stretch more strings between these pegs to divide the square into quarters.
4. Use your field guide to help you to identify the plants species growing in each quarter of the square. Do different plants, or the same ones, grow in each area.
5. Draw a chart on graph paper to record each plant’s position. Use different colors for each plant type that you found. Add up the total number of each type.
You will need: Field guide, collecting pot, muslin, rubber band, notebook, pencil, colored pencils.
1. Look for the nibbles nuts and acorns. These seeds provide food for many animals. Collects seeds in a pot, cover them with muslin and secure with rubber band.
2. Visit your local pond or stream to find seeds, such as alders, that are dispersed by water. Use your field guide to identify any seeds you see floating on the water.
3. Maple and sycamore trees have light seeds with wings. As they fall, the wings spins the seed through the air, helping it to fly further and germinate far from the parent tree.
4. Find a dandelion head. Plants such as dandelions have very light seeds, each with its own small parachute of fine threads. These are carried away by the wind.
5. Look for the seed capsules of poppies. They are like pepper shakers with hundreds on tiny seeds inside. As the wind shakes the capsule the seeds pop out and scatter widely.
6. When you walk through long grass you may find burrs fruits with tiny hooks stuck on to coat or to a pet’s fur. Draw pictures of all the seeds and fruits that you find. Color and label them.