(ORDO NEWS) — Some types of wild oats have a special seed dispersal system that looks like the seeds are walking the ground looking for suitable soil to root.
Modern oats (Avena sativa) have been radically modified by domestication and are entirely dependent on humans for survival.
Not only do they need to be planted in the soil, but the seeds remain attached to the tassels, making them easier to collect and minimizing seed wastage.
In addition, they have developed highly specialized anatomical features that actually help the spikelets containing seeds to move through the ground in search of suitable soil for rooting.
As soon as the spikelets of oats fall to the ground, two long twisted awns begin to rotate, giving the impression that the structure is moving consciously.
This is just an illusion, as movement is a purely physical process, influenced solely by the daily cycles of moisture changes, and not by any plant consciousness.
The part of the long, curved awns closest to the seeds is made of twisted fabric, and one side absorbs moisture and swells while the other stays dry.
This causes the awns to unwind and press against whatever surface they are leaning against, with such force that it actually causes the spikelet to move.
But even if this “walking” occurs unconsciously, the spikelet will move in exactly the same way under the right weather conditions.
The constant movement, facilitated by the daily cycle of moisture changes, increases the likelihood that the spikelet will eventually end up in the shade of a stone or in a crack in the soil, where increased moisture can help germinating embryos survive.
Earlier we said that in nature there is an amazing tree called Socratea exorrhiza, which grows in the tropics of Ecuador, and it is constantly moving.
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