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Science Made Simple
by TaLonne Mefford
     

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How does a seed become a fruit?

With spring in full swing, you can look outside and see flowers blooming everywhere. Seeds will soon be planted in gardens and it will be time to watch them grow. Eventually, those seeds will become a fruit, but how does it get from that little seed to the fruit we eat?

Seeds are planted in the ground. Within the seed is the food that nourishes the seed when it first begins growing, called the endosperm. The seed must first collect moisture before it can grow, so seeds planted in dry soil will stay dormant until they receive water. Moistening the seeds can help them to start growing sooner. Seeds can be very particular about when they start to grow because they need very specific conditions to happen.

If the seeds receive adequate water and nutrients, the seed will split and the seedling will start to come out. This happens because the nutrients and water cause the seed to grow too big for its container. The seedling grows and pushes through the soil until it emerges from underground, and grows into a plant.

The plant receives sunlight, which the plant combines with carbon dioxide from the air and nutrients in the soil to create chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the stuff that makes the plant green and provides the plant’s food. Roots grow beneath the ground and absorb nutrients and water. The plant continues to grow until it reaches a certain size, which is determined by what kind of plant it is. Some fruit plants become bushes and others gradually grow into a tree.

At some point, the plant will develop flowers, which will eventually grow into fruit. The flowers contain nectar, which other organisms, like bees, collect. The process of feeding off the nectar gets the bees covered in pollen. When the bees collect nectar from other plants, some of the pollen falls off onto the other plant’s flower. This process is pollination. Once the pollen is within the ovary, the pollen grows a tube that travels into the ovule. When the pollen and ovule unite, it creates a zygote. This is the embryo of the plant and the part that will eventually become the fruit.

The flower of the plant falls off, and the embryo of the plant starts to grow. With fruit, the ovary swells very large and the seeds form on the inside or outside, depending on what kind of plant it is.

How the fruit develops sometimes depends on how many ovules were fertilized on the plant. Animals that consume this fruit will spread the seeds around when they drop the seeds or when the seeds pass through the digestive system. This process allows the seed to reach the soil and start to grow, beginning the cycle again.

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