Seed. The seed, from which the future plant proceeds, is the sole end and aim of all the parts of fructification. It consists of several parts, the most essential of which is the embryo, or germen, called by Linnaeus, corculum, whence the life and organization of the future plant originate.
The -cotyledons, or seed lobes, are immediately attached to the embryo, of which they form, properly speaking, a part. They are commonly two in number, and, when the seed has sufficiently established its root, generally rise out of the ground, and form a kind of leaves. Hilum, the scar, is the point by which the seed is attached to its seed-vessel, or receptacle, and through which alone nourishment is imparted for the perfecting of its internal parts ; it is also the point through which the radical is protruded in the first stage of germination.
There is no part of the vegetable kingdom which offers so many striking proofs of admirable contrivance as the seed. The care which Providence has bestowed upon it is astonishing.
Independently of the innumerable means which are adopted for maturing and pro-tecting the organs on which the production of the seed depends, and which form part of the system of provision for perfecting it - independently, too, of the countless contrivances, sonic highly artificial, for the immediate purpose of perfecting it, - the mode in which this organ is preserved after it is matured evinces consummate care and wisdom. Sometimes it is packed up in a capsule, a vessel composed of tough and strong coats; sometimes, as in stone-fruits and nuts, it is closed in a strong 6hell, which again is enclosed in a pulp; sometimes, as in grapes and berries, it is plumped overhead in a glutinous syrup, contained within a skin or bladder; at other times, as in apples and pears, it is embedded in the heart of a firm fleshy substance; or, as in strawberries, pricked into the surface of a soft pulp. These and many other varieties exist in what are called fruits. In pulse, and grain, and grasses, - in trees, and shrubs and flowers, - the variety of seed-vessels is incomputable. "We have the seeds, as in the pea tribe, regularly disposed in parchment pods, which completely exclude the wet; the pod also, not seldom, as in the bean, lined with a fine down distended like a blown bladder; or we have the seed enveloped in wool, as in the cotton-plant; lodged, as in pines, between the hard and compact scales of a cone ; or, barricadoed, as in the artichoke and thistle, with spikes and prickles; in mushrooms, placed under a penthouse; in ferns, within slits in the back part of the leaf; or, which is the most general organization of all, we find them covered by a strong close tunicle, and attached to the stem, according to an order appropriated to each plant, as is seen in several kinds of grain and of grasses.
Equally numerous and admirable are the contrivances for dispersing seeds Who has not listened, in a calm and sunny day, to the crackling of furze-bushes, caused by the explosion of their little elastic pods, or watched the down of innumerable seeds floating on the summer breeze, till they are overtaken by a shower, which, moistening their wings, stops their further flight, and at the same time accomplishes its final purpose, by immediatelv promoting the germination of each seed in the moist earth )
How little are children aware, as they blow away the seeds of the dandelion, or stick burs in sport on each other's clothes, that they are fullilling one of the great ends of nature.
The awns of grasses answer the same end.
Pulpy fruits serve quadrupeds and birds as food, while their seeds, often small, hard.
and indigestible, pass uninjured through the intestines, and are deposited, far from their original place of growth, in a condition perfectly fit for vegetation.
Even such seeds as arc themselves eaten, like the various sorts of nuts, are hoarded up in the ground, and occasionally forgotten, or carried to a distance, and in part only devoured.
The ocean itself serves to waft the larger kind of seeds from their native soil to far distant shores.