Pollination and Fertilization

Free Response

Why do some seeds undergo a period of dormancy, and how do they break dormancy?


Many seeds enter a period of inactivity or extremely low metabolic activity, a process known as dormancy. Dormancy allows seeds to tide over unfavorable conditions and germinate on return to favorable conditions. Favorable conditions could be as diverse as moisture, light, cold, fire, or chemical treatments. After heavy rains, many new seedlings emerge. Forest fires also lead to the emergence of new seedlings.

Discuss some ways in which fruit seeds are dispersed.


Some fruits have built-in mechanisms that allow them to disperse seeds by themselves, but others require the assistance of agents like wind, water, and animals. Fruit that are dispersed by the wind are light in weight and often have wing-like appendages that allow them to be carried by the wind; other have structures resembling a parachute that keep them afloat in the wind. Some fruits, such as those of dandelions, have hairy, weightless structures that allow them to float in the wind. Fruits dispersed by water are light and buoyant, giving them the ability to float; coconuts are one example. Animals and birds eat fruits and disperse their seeds by leaving droppings at distant locations. Other animals bury fruit that may later germinate. Some fruits stick to animals’ bodies and are carried to new locations. People also contribute to seed dispersal when they carry fruits to new places.