Winged Seeds Boost Sprouting Speed in a Flower Species

Greg Howard
24th January, 2024

Winged Seeds Boost Sprouting Speed in a Flower Species

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Winged fruits of a plant known as Anacyclus clavatus have shown some intriguing behavior in relation to water absorption and their ability to sprout seeds. For years, scientists believed that the main point of these wing-like structures on fruits was to help scatter seeds over a wider area. But new findings suggest there's more to these wings than just aiding in seed dispersal. Researchers studied the difference between winged and unwinged fruits in how they take up water and how quickly their seeds start growing. They conducted experiments that included sealing the wings with wax and trimming the wings to understand the impact these modifications would have on the germination process. Their observations were clear. Winged fruits didn't just soak up more water, but they did it faster compared to fruits without wings. On sealing these wings, the researchers noticed that the seeds took longer to start germinating. However, when they cut the wings, it seemed to have little effect on the timing of germination. They also played with the amount of water available to the seeds and noted that less water significantly slowed down the germination of unwinged fruits, but the winged ones were largely unfazed. What does all this mean? The wings on fruits are not solely for the purpose of helping them travel far and wide. These findings back up the idea that wings also have a crucial role in kick-starting the germination process. They seem to help seeds by drawing in water more effectively right after they’ve separated from the parent plant. So while wings might aid in the dispersal of seeds, they also seem to be an advantage for speedy and efficient germination, ensuring that the chances of a seed growing into a healthy plant are enhanced. With this new understanding, scientists can appreciate that the wings’ contributions to a plant's life cycle are manifold, going beyond what was traditionally believed.

FruitsPlant Science


Main Study

1) Fruit wings accelerate germination in Anacyclus clavatus.

Published 21st January, 2024

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