The Seedy Side of Plants

About

NATURE uproots the cunning secrets of how flora reproduce in The Seedy Side of Plants.

They’re cunning and manipulative, and will do anything to get what they want. No, it’s not the cast of your favorite daytime soap. We’re speaking of the ubiquitous plant life that covers our planet, relentlessly evolving elaborate schemes to disperse its seeds and ensure the continuation of its almost limitless species.

How does such a seemingly passive life form accomplish the complex task of reproduction? Many plants take advantage of the primeval forces of Mother Nature herself to help their seeds germinate, sending them far and wide by means of wind, rain, and tides. Others have found ways to hitch rides for their seeds aboard other living things. For example, the burdock plant, which inspired inventor George de Mestral to create Velcro, has pesky burrs that sticks stubbornly to hair and fur.

Fruit, however, is perhaps the most commonly employed medium of seed mobility. Fruit-producing plants rely on the appeal of their fruits for dispersal of the seeds, and have evolved their own unique “marketing strategies” and their own select clientele — animals as well as humans — to help the process along. Even as scientists develop methods to control plant reproduction, each time we yield to the temptation to pluck a ripe juicy apple from its branch, we too become pawns in one of nature’s carefully devised game plans.

Online ontent for The Seedy Side of Plants was originally posted May 1999.

Production Credits Print

Television Credits

Narrated by
RICHARD CRENNA

For Oxford Scientific Films

Producer
SEAN MORRIS

Photography
JOHN BROWN
SEAN MORRIS
JUSTINE EVANS
KEITH BRUST
TIM SHEPHERD
RICHARD & CAROL FOSTER
GLEN CARRUTHERS & JAN ALDEN HOVEN
DAVE ALLEN
PAUL & GRACIE ATKINS
TREVOR DE KOCK
SCIENCE PICTURES

Editor
CHARLES DAVIES

Music by
DOMINIC CRAWFORD COLLINS

Scientific Consultants
FRANCOIS BONNET
JIM DALLING
VICKY FERRIS
YITZCHAK GUTTERMAN
JEREMY HOLLMANN
BARRIE JUNIPER
ELIZABETH KALKO
BASTIAAN MEEUSE
GEOFF MONTEITH
MARTIN STANIFORTH

Assistant Producer
JACKIE LAUGHTON

Production Team
KITTY COX
EVA HEDGES

Production Manager
ANN THOMAS

The Producer wishes to thank:
CHRIS & MARY CAMERON
FRANCOIS DE MESTRAL
MAURITIAN WILDLIFE FOUNDATION
PILANESBERG NATIONAL PARK
ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS KEW
SAN DIEGO WILD ANIMAL PARK
SEYCHELLES ISLAND FOUNDATION
SMITHSONIAN TROPICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE
UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD BOTANIC GARDEN

For the BBC

Unit Manager
CHRISTINA HAMILTON

Series Editor
NEIL NIGHTINGALE

© 1998 Oxford Scientific Films

For NATURE

Series Editor
JANET HESS

Coordinating Producer
JANICE YOUNG

Producers
JILL CLARKE
JESSICA SIEGEL

Researchers
SUSANE LEE
GIANNA SCARALIA

Production Assistants
ERIKA HAENDEL
PATTY JACOBSON

Production Secretary
IRENE TEJARATCHI

Manager
EILEEN FRAHER

Production Manager
JULIE SCHAPIRO THORMAN

Editor
PATRICK GAMBUTI, JR.

On-Line Editor
BARRY GLINER

Audio Mix
ED CAMPBELL

Supervising Producer
BILL MURPHY

Executive In Charge
WILLIAM GRANT

Executive Editor
GEORGE PAGE

Executive Producer
FRED KAUFMAN

An Oxford Scientific Films Production in association with Thirteen/WNET and the BBC

© 1999 Educational Broadcasting Corporation

All Rights Reserved

Web Credits

Producer
DANIEL B. GREENBERG

Associate Producer
TANNER VEA

Designer
MICHAEL DIMAURO

Pagebuilding
BRIAN SANTALONE

Technical Director
BRIAN LEE

About the Writer

David Malakoff is a journalist covering research discoveries and the politics of science for SCIENCE MAGAZINE in Washington, D.C. His writing has appeared in a wide range of venues, including THE ECONOMIST, THE WASHINGTON POST, and ABCNews.com.

Photos for "Overview," "Endlessly Adaptable," and "Links and Books" © John Brown/OSF; photos for "Planet of the Plants" and "The Struggle for Control" © Oxford Scientific Films

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