The Role of Fruits in Seed Dispersal

The structure of a fruit often facilitates the dispersal of its seeds. The "wings" of the maple, elm, and ailanthus fruits and the "parachutes" of the dandelion and the thistle are blown by the wind; burdock, cocklebur, and carrot fruits have barbs or hooks that cling to fur and clothing; and the buoyant coconut may float thousands of miles from its parent tree. Some fruits (e.g., witch hazel and violet) explode at maturity, scattering their seeds. A common method of dispersion is through the feces of animals that eat fleshy fruits containing seeds covered by indigestible coats.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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