Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Seed Dispersal
Nature Bulletin No. 35    October 6, 1945
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F, Smith, President
Roberts Mann, Superintendent of Conservation

SEED DISPERSAL
Plants have various ways of spreading their seeds.

Some have "fly-away" seeds. Included are the dandelion, thistle, tumbleweed, cattail, clematis, and many trees. The cottonwood, sycamore, aspen, linden, ailanthus, maple, box elder, birch and the pines are all trees having seeds with wings or with "down", that are carried by winds.

Certain aquatic plants have seeds that sink to bury themselves in.the mud beneath the water. Others have seeds that float and are distributed by the winds and currents that carry them away.

Many plants "shoot" their seeds, the seed pods popping open with sufficient force to throw the seeds many feet away, Notable in this group are knotgrass, lady slippers, violets, vetches, jewel weed, witch- hazel, and Heavea, the Para rubber tree, The witch-hazel may shoot its seeds 30 or 40 feet.

The seeds of edible fruits and berries are widely distributed by birds and animals that eat but do not digest them. The acorns of oak trees, and the nuts of the walnut, pecan and hickories, are planted by the squirrels that bury them for winter food.

And then there are many plants whose seed are contained in burs that cling to the hair or fur of animals and the clothes of humans. The plants of this nature, common in this Chicago region, are the burdock, the cocklebur, the Spanish needle, the tick trefoil, the bedstraw, stick-tight, beggar's lice, and the sandbar.

Some of these burs are known by various uncomplimentary local names. Anyone walking through the fields and woodlands these fall days will do well to wear smooth, hard-textured clothing to which these burs and seeds will not stick. An Englishman of our acquaintance, who insisted on walking through the woods clad in rough tweeds, after several hours of futile effort, finally burnt the suit swearing at " a beastly country where such things grow".

Apparently they do not have them in England.


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