* The myriad seeds. l. 355. Nature would seem to have been wonderfully prodigal in the seeds of vegetables, and the spawn of fish; almost any one plant, if all its seeds should grow to maturity, would in a few years alone people the terrestrial globe. Mr. Ray asserts that 1012 seeds of tobacco weighed only one grain, and that from one tobacco plant the seeds thus calculated amounted to 360,000! The seeds of the ferns are by him supposed to exceed a million on a leaf. As the works of nature are governed by general laws this exuberant reproduction prevents the accidental extinction of the species, at the same time that they serve for food for the higher orders of animation.

Every seed possesses a reservoir of nutriment designed for the growth of the future plant, this consists of starch, mucilage, or oil, within the coat of the feed, or of sugar and subacid pulp in the fruits, which belongs to it.

For the preservation of the immature seed nature has used many ingenious methods; some are wrapped in down, as the seeds of the rose, bean, and cotton-plant; others are suspended in a large air-vessel, as those of the bladder-sena, staphylaea, and pea.

 [ return to text ]