Unlike the mobile animal kingdom, plants are rooted to the same place where they start their lives. Imagine what would happen if all the seeds of the same plant is rooted just around it? There would be a thick grove with highest degree of competition in one place and plants would not be able to spread across. A few strategies that the plants use to extend their territories are listed here.
Plants cannot move. Very true statement indeed! However, animals can move and animals eat plants. These are the first creatures on earth which have done outsourcing. Yes, they have outsourced their mobility and animal kingdom is their service provider. The mammals, birds, insects and even some fish eat fruits. While the fruits provide nutrition to the animal, the seeds have strong shell to withstand the action of digestive juices and pass through the gut safely. While the animals are on the move (walking, running, flying or swimming), the seeds are teleported to faraway places, thereby laying foundation for a new territory.
The seeds come with wings as found in tropical Asian climbing gourd found in Malaysia (Alsomitra macrocarpa). The wings are about 5 inches wide and are wrapped around the seeds while in the shell. Once the seeds come out of the shell, the wings spreads and glide to long distances. Once landing on ground the wings degenerate allowing the seed to flourish. A few other plants such as maple have seeds also come with glider wings.
The Dipterocarp family has unique way to teleport their seeds. Their seeds come with 2 to 5 leaf-like wings emanating from the seed at the bottom part. The structure of light aerodynamic wings with heavier seed base acts like shuttle cork and the seed is parachuted to some distance before it landing.
In Picture: A three winged Dipterocarp – Top Left: Side View 1 – note the wings and the seed in the bottom; Top Right: Side View 2 – The curvature of the wings increases aerodynamic properties; Bottom Left: Top View – note the petal like formation; Bottom Right: Seeds have landed.
Gone With The Wind – Sailors Fly Light:
The seeds of cotton and milkweed are very light and come with hair-like feathery structures. These enable the seeds to be carried to long distances depending on the speed of the wind, without the support of animals. These seeds are on the move until they get disjointed from the fluffy hairy matter, or when they get dampened.
Apart from these, the plants that stay put near waterways drop their fruits in water streams, which float and land in faraway places.