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The Garden Scoop

Featuring weekly articles by Ryan Pankau, University of Illinois Horticulture Educator.

Seasonal Seed Show

By Ava Heap

The transition from summer to autumn brings many joys. Gardeners appreciate the reprieve from the heat and humidity. Trees reveal their true splendor, changing their leaves to dramatic dark hues. Also, thousands of seeds, whether from plants or trees, begin their journey to be planted. The dispersal of seeds is nature's way of playing hide-and-seek. Seeds run away from their current position and attempt to hide in a different environment and then come out again in spring. Partaking in nature's favorite game is a great way to introduce children to horticulture and explain how plants grow and spread. Recently, I took a stroll through a local park and discovered some varieties of seeds

When discovering your own seeds on fall adventures with children, try to ask these questions:

  • Do the fruits or seeds have hooks?
  • Do the fruits or seeds have a parachute of hair?
  • Do the fruits or seeds have wings?
  • What color is the fruit?
  • Is the fruit shiny?
  • Is the fruit or seed juicy?
  • How do you think the seeds of your plants are spread around?

Some of my favorite seeds I wasn't able to catch on camera include acorns, Osage orange (commonly referred to as hedge apples), sunflowers, and maple seeds (informally called helicopter seeds). But, there are thousands more! What are you waiting for? Go exploring today! Feel free to submit your images of seeds or fall adventures to me at

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