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What is Seed? Types and Uses

by Awais Nawaz
Published: Last Updated on
Seed

Seed is the primary mean by which plants reproduce and spread to new areas. They are a major source of food for animals and humans. They can be eaten whole, ground into flour, or used to produce oil. Further breeders can use them to crossbreed different varieties of plants or to create genetically modified seeds using techniques like gene splicing or gene modification.

What is Seed?

A seed is a small, hard structure that contains the embryo of a plant. It is part of the plant that is responsible for reproduction and the continuation of the species. They are produced by flowers and other types of plants, and they are the means by which these plants disperse their offspring.

They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are often covered in a protective coat or hull. Inside the seed is the embryo, which is the developing plant. The embryo is made up of the cotyledons, which are the first leaves of the plant, and the radicle, which is the root of the plant. It also contains nutrients that the plant needs to grow and develop.

Further, they are important because they allow plants to reproduce and spread to new areas. They are also an important source of food for animals and humans. They can be eaten whole or used to produce oil, flour, and other food products. They are also used in plant breeding to produce new varieties of plants.

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They can be stored for long periods of time and can be transported easily, making them a valuable resource for farmers and gardeners. In addition, they play a vital role in plant evolution and adaptation, as they allow plants to spread and colonize new areas.

There are millions of different types of seeds and they are used for a wide variety of purposes. However, here are a few statistics that may be of interest:

  • According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are approximately 1.5 million known plant species in the world, and most of these species produce seeds.
  • The FAO estimates that there are more than 50,000 different types of edible seeds, including grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds from fruits and vegetables.
  • They are an important source of food for many people around the world. For example, grains such as wheat, rice, and corn are the main staples in many diets, and legumes such as beans, lentils, and peanuts are also widely consumed.
  • They are also important for agriculture and horticulture, as they provide a reliable and efficient way to grow new plants. According to the FAO, there are more than 2,000 different types that are used for agricultural and horticultural purposes.
  • They are also important for plant evolution and adaptation, as they allow plants to spread and colonize new areas. Many plants have seeds that are adapted for dispersal by animals, wind, or water, allowing them to move to new locations and establish themselves in new environments.

Structure of Seed

They are complex structures that are essential for the reproduction and growth of plants. Here are the main parts of a seed:

Seed coat: The seed coat is a protective outer layer that surrounds the seed. It helps to protect the seed from damage and helps to retain moisture.

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Embryo: The embryo is the developing plant that is contained within the seed. It is made up of several different parts, including the radicle (the developing root), the cotyledons (the first leaves of the plant), and the epicotyl (the stem above the cotyledons).

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Structure of Seed

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Endosperm: The endosperm is a food reserve that is stored within it. It provides nutrients to the developing plant during germination (the process of a seed starting to grow).

Hilum: The hilum is a small scar on the seed that marks the point where it was attached to the plant’s ovary (the female reproductive structure).

Micropyle: The micropyle is a small opening in the seed coat that allows water to enter in it during germination. It is located near the hilum.

Raphe: The raphe is a ridge or groove that runs along the seed coat. It is formed when the seed coat splits during germination, allowing the developing plant to emerge from the it.

General Types of Seeds

There are many types of seeds, including seeds for plants, animals, and food. Some examples include:

Flower seeds: These are used to grow a wide variety of flowers, including annuals, perennials, and biennials.

Vegetable seeds: These are used to grow a wide variety of vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, and peas.

Tree seeds: These are used to grow trees, including fruit trees, shade trees, and ornamental trees.

Grass seeds: These are used to grow lawns or pasture for animals.

Herb seeds: These are used to grow herbs, including culinary herbs like basil, mint, and oregano, as well as medicinal herbs like chamomile and echinacea.

Cover crop seeds: These are used to grow crops that are not harvested for food, but rather to enrich the soil and control erosion.

General Types of Seeds

Some examples of types of seeds for animals include:

Birdseed: This is used to feed a variety of birds, including finches, sparrows, and chickadees.

Fish food: This is used to feed a variety of fish, including goldfish, koi, and tropical fish.

Livestock feed: This is used to feed animals like cows, pigs, and chickens.

Some examples of types of seeds for food include:

Grain seeds: These are used to grow grains like wheat, oats, and corn.

Legume seeds: These are used to grow legumes like beans, peas, and lentils.

Nut seeds: These are used to grow nuts like almonds, peanuts, and pecans.

Oilseed: These are used to produce oil like soybeans, sunflowers, and canola.

Types of Seeds according to Plant Breeding

In plant breeding, seeds can be classified into several categories based on the type of plant they produce and the method used to produce them. Here are some common types of seeds based on plant breeding:

Open-pollinated seeds: These are produced by plants that are pollinated naturally by insects, birds, or the wind. They will grow into plants that are genetically similar to the parent plant.

Hybrid seeds: These are produced by crossing two different varieties of the same species. These will grow into plants that have characteristics from both parent plants. They are often more uniform and higher-yielding than open-pollinated.

Types of Seeds according to Plant Breeding

Inbred seeds: These are produced by self-pollinating plants for several generations. They will grow into plants that are genetically uniform and stable.

Genetically modified (GM) seeds: These have been genetically modified in a laboratory using techniques such as gene splicing or gene modification. They are often used to produce plants with desirable traits such as resistance to pests or drought.

Heirloom seeds: These are passed down through generations and are often open-pollinated. They are valued for their genetic diversity and for preserving the heritage of traditional plants.

Certified seeds: These are produced and sold by companies that have met specific standards for purity, germination, and disease resistance.

Breeder seeds: These are produced by plant breeders and used to create new varieties of plants. They are typically purebred and of high quality.

In plant breeding, basic seed (also known as foundation seed) refers to seed that has been produced and certified to meet specific standards for purity, germination, and disease resistance. It is used as the starting point for the production of pre-basic seed, which is produced from a small number of plants selected from the basic seed. Pre-basic seed is also subjected to strict standards for purity and is used as the starting point for the production of certified seed, which is sold to farmers for planting.

Basic seed and pre-basic seed are important in plant breeding because they provide a reliable and consistent starting point for the production of high-quality seed. By using these as the foundation for the production of certified seed, plant breeders can ensure that the seed they sell to farmers is of the highest quality and will produce healthy, high-yielding plants.

Uses of Seed

Seeds have a variety of uses, including:

Plant reproduction: They are the primary means by which plants reproduce and spread to new areas. When it is planted, it germinates and grows into a new plant.

Food: They are a major source of food for animals and humans. They can be eaten whole, ground into flour, or used to produce oil. Some common types that are used for food include grain seeds like wheat, corn, and oats, legume seeds like beans and lentils, and nut seeds like almonds and peanuts.

Plant breeding: They are used in plant breeding to produce new varieties of plants with desirable characteristics. Breeders can use them to crossbreed different varieties of plants or to create genetically modified seeds using techniques like gene splicing or gene modification.

Landscaping: They are used to grow a wide variety of plants for landscaping, including flowers, trees, shrubs, and grass.

Medicine: Some of them have medicinal properties and are used in traditional and modern medicine. For example, chamomile seeds are used to make tea that has a calming effect, and flax seeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and have been used to treat a variety of ailments.

Oil production: They are used to produce oil for a variety of purposes, including cooking, lighting, and industrial uses. Some common examples that are used to produce oil include soybeans, sunflowers, and canola.

Industrial uses: They are used in a variety of industrial applications, including the production of paints, plastics, and textiles. Some, like cottonseeds, are used to produce oil that is used in the production of these materials.

Conclusion

A seed is an embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer covering. It is the means by which angiosperms (flowering plants) disseminate offspring, and is also the primary means by which grasses, grains, and cereals propagate themselves. Seeds have several important types and functions, including providing food for animals and humans, serving as a means of plant reproduction, and serving as the starting point for new plant growth.

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