Prickly pears When ripe, seed must be shed from the mother plant and travel looking for a suitable place to grow. For that they devised the most surprising forms and strategies.

Seeds are like ships. They carry an embryo and a food reserve so that the baby can feed the first few days of germination, before it grows its own root. When they leave the mother, they should find a suitable place to settle. For that, each one has designed a ship that takes advantage of the resources of its surroundings. There are many forms of transportation, one more ingenious than the other. Here are some of them:

With wings
They use the wind to move. For that they have appendages that allow them to float in the currents and to plan during the descent. So are the seeds of pine, jacaranda, linden and ash, among many others. There are a variety of wing shapes and flight methods. There are seeds with one wing, others with two and there are many wings that have wings that allow them to rotate in the air.

With parachutes
As the seeds of the Lion. These hairy feathers not only allow some species to move with the wind, but also, to be deposited on the ground with great elegance and in a position that helps their germination. While a normal seed falls close to its mother, those who have parachutes can walk away several meters. Thus they get land with more space to grow than if they fell with their sisters and had to develop competing for light and nutrients.

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With bent
They have hooks, thorns or velcro-like systems. Others are sticky. They adhere, stubborn, to the fur of the animals. So they can travel free on species that have legs. And not only that. Also, some very ingenious, they can cling to the birds, and thus to fly even when they do not have wings. They may be trapped for several days. The longer they last, the farther they come.

They are covered with a nutritious layer and wait for an animal to eat them. So they travel inside a stomach. They arrive at the destination when the animal does poop, something that can be stinky for a human, but that is very interesting for a seed because it contributes fertilizer to him. Not many can be transported this way. And here comes the disadvantage of the method: the mother plant must expend a lot of energy in producing hard seeds, which are able to withstand the stomachic juices of an animal's stomach.

There are seeds that generate strategies to attract ants, such as bumps of tasty tissue. The ants collect them, take them to their nests, eat the rich and discard the rest. Thus the seeds get several benefits: they are planted underground, in a fertilized place (the anthills usually have garbage dumps, which are nothing but rich montoncitos of fertilizer for the seeds), in a cave protected of other insects (because there is no animal which is encouraged to enter an anthill).

With float
Generate hollow spaces in the interior, full of air, that allow them to float. Or they are formed by a fabric similar to the sponge or cork. There are also some that are just so light that they float. An example is the coconut, the one that is bought in the greengrocers and with which they make such rich sweets. It is pure emptiness, and it floats. Some people say that coconuts have been found that traveled from one continent to another.