Seeds of plants have all developed their own strategies for spreading around the globe. Very light seeds, seeds with wings, seeds with propellers that are all moved by the wind in their own way.
Seeds with air cushion
So-called blow or dust kites are mainly the seeds of the Orchids. These seeds are surrounded by a balloon-like shell and contain few nutrients in the seed to save weight. There are cases in which ± 100 kilometers were covered with such light luggage. That is quite a lot, even when it is known that the seeds of the Mosquito Orchid weigh 0,000.008 grams. The air cushion-like bubbles of the marsh orchids are also excellent for use as a swimming belt for the seeds. Without the food storage room, the germs have to rely on society (symbiosis) with certain fungi, the threads of which penetrate into the germ and provide it with the necessary nutrition during the first growth. Because it is more or less a matter of luck whether a seed ends up in a place where a fungal braid is already waiting, such a plant has to produce enormous quantities of ‘blisters’ for at least a few to survive.
Gliding kites, perfectly functioning gliders from the vegetable kingdom are only found in the tropics. A textbook example is the nut of Zanonia macrocarpa, about the size of a penny and sitting in a support surface with a wingspan of 15 centimeters. The seed grain forms the center of gravity. Aircraft modeling is said to have been inspired by this plant.
Seeds with screw
Screw kites are the seeds and fruits of Maple, Ash, Hornbeam, Lime and the East Asian Sky Tree (Ailanthus glandulosa), which is found in parks and gardens. The flying device and its connection to the fruit can be very different. Just think of the Maple and the Linde. They have in common that the entire device rotates during the fall, so it performs screw movements.
Maple and Ash fruits with or without their ‘propellers’ have been dropped to the ground from a height of six meters. For whole maple fruits, the fall time was set at 5.6 sec, while for the de-winged 1.2 sec. lasted. The ‘propeller’ thus causes a delay of about 5 times.
The fruit of the id remained in the air twice as long with a flying device (2.8 sec.) As without (1.4 sec.). Especially when the wind is blowing, it does not only go down with a slow fall, but also a little further away, which should be the intention. The Zanonia was champion in these tests and sailed 15.2 seconds. through the air, while the seed without support in 2.4 sec. hit the ground. This equates to a 6.33-fold deceleration of the free fall.
Helicopter seeds or discus seeds
We can easily get to know discus kites. We can name a whole list of plants in which this way of spreading occurs: Yellow gentian, Silk plant gentian, Monkshood, Narcissus anemone, Alpine rose, Turk’s cap lily, Sword lily, Tulip, Birch, Elm and Alder. In the latter three, the seed or fruit is the center of disk-shaped wing-like projections. Furthermore, seeds can also be embedded in a real disk, so that they often act like a slightly twisted flying saucer. The wings do not have to be appendages, but can also be ?? like with the Lilies and the Tulip ?? be part of the outer pericarp. All diskus kites more or less revolve around their own axis.
Seeds with fluff
Feather-tailed kites are, for example, the fruits of Bosrank, Common Man’s wort, Alpine anemone and Feather grass. The term ‘feather tail’ gives a graphic representation of the appearance. The hair is not directly on the fruiting body, but rather the extended styles (with Feather Grass the chaff needle) are more or less heavily hairy. These plants produce very photogenic things that way. These seeds stimulate the imagination and thanks to their appearance they are given names such as boxing beard, goat beard, devil’s beard, and many more folk names. The ‘feathers’ react to the humidity and lie close to the pillar in wet weather, to spread out in drought. We already know about the fruit of the Feather Grass that it burrows into the ground when its hygroscopically reacting chaff needle encounters resistance when it is rolled open and closed.
In the course of evolution, each plant has thus found its own way of growing, living and surviving by trial and error.