Seeds are embryo plants capable of growing into new individual plants more or less varied from the parent plant. As the first stage of plant-life it should have the first attention of the beginner in horticulture.
Under natural conditions the seed reproduces the species very nearly. If we plant the pits of our native plums, the species will in the main be reproduced, yet no two of the seedlings will be alike in all respects. Not only will we have slight variations in leaf and habit of growth, but in the size, color, and season of the fruit. This variation has given us by selection such native plums as Wyant, Wolf, and Rollingstone, and some of our most valuable grapes, gooseberries, raspberries, and other fruits.
The natural variation from the seed has also by selection given us some of our most desirable ornamental and shade trees and shrubs. As a well-known instance, the handsome cut leaved weeping birch is a sport or variation of the Amur-birch species (Betula Amurensis). If propagated from seeds, the cut-leaved variety will reproduce the species, but the variety can only be preserved by propagating from the buds.