Why Do Seeds Need to Be Moved Away From the Parent Plant?

Seeds from the parent plant need to be dispersed away from the plant to allow the seedlings a chance at survival without having to compete with the parent plant for space, nutrients and sunlight. Dispersion also allows the species to spread its population across a wider territory to ensure its continued survival.

When too many seeds are planted in the same pot or area, the seedlings tend to be weaker and more fragile because they have to compete with the other seedlings for resources. There are several ways in which seeds are dispersed naturally in plants. Gravity is sometimes sufficient to pull down heavy seeds from tall plants. The seeds then roll away from the parent plant and begin to grow. Animals also help with seed dispersion. The seeds can have surfaces that facilitate their sticking to the fur or skin of the animals so they can be transported as the animal moves around. When animals eat fruit containing seeds, the seeds pass through the animals' gastrointestinal tracts unaffected and are excreted at different locations along with some fertilizer nutrients to help them grow.

Some seeds are light enough or have special wing-like adaptations to allow for dispersal by wind. Other seeds can float in water and move along with streams to a new location where there are sufficient nutrients and no plants to compete with for water and sun. Sometimes, seed pods burst with enough force that the seeds get thrown over a distance to allow the seedlings to grow away from the parent plants. The numerous different ways in which plants have evolved to perfect their technique of seed dispersion is a telltale sign of how important it is for seedlings to grow away from the parent plants.