Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Little Green and A Little Mystery

I know that to most, seeing seeds germinate is probably the stuff of 3rd Grade Science Class. But apparently, I missed that class, because I'm in absolute awe at the progress our seeds are making both indoors and out. It's official, some of the seeds I dropped into the ground have sprouted!

And the seeds I planted indoors are growing surprisingly well:

I get that seeds are self contained pods of life. They've got the protective outer shell to keep them safe and some nutrition inside to allow them to grow without sunlight (while they are still underground, taking root). I can also imagine that getting them wet is the trigger that starts the whole process. But, what about this quandary: how do they know which direction is up?

I mean, I just dropped the seeds into soil haphazardly. I can imagine they'd start developing roots and shoots, but what causes the roots to grow down and the shoots to grow up? In the darkness of the soil, what possible cue could they use?

As you can imagine, I'm not the first person to ask this question. The simple answer appears to be: the seed can detect gravity, though the exact details for how it does this is still not 100% known.

Like I said, I'm in awe. Life really is mysterious and inventive.


  1. In our Universe... we always talking about "things are looking up"... why should plants feel any different? :)

  2. My personal take: I think the reason for shoots growing up is symply: photosynthesis. The leaves just need to look for light and oxygen. And for the roots - it looks for nutrients. Once the top layer is exhausted of it, it grows deeper.

  3. ""I think the reason for shoots growing up is simply: photosynthesis.""

    But what about when they are underground and there's no light?

  4. It finds light; it senses light. Don't underestimate the power of photons penetrating the earth. Just like fishes in deep, deep dark waters. It's written in their gene code to survive.

  5. Interesting, Jen! And yeah, I'll give you the point of 'not underestimating' photons, or any other part of life. It's truly miraculous how seeds manage to function.