Research Bulletin (Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station)


The need to identify seeds may be encountered by individuals in several fields of biological endeavor. The greatest use of seed taxonomy in botanical and agronomic work is undoubtedly relative to seed analysis. One of the most important functions of the analyst is the recognition and designation of weed seeds occurring incidentally with agricultural seeds. The competent seed analyst must be able to recognize the seeds of a great many more or less common plants and should likewise possess the means of identifying, at least approximately, numerous less common ones. Application of seed taxonomy is not, however, confined solely to the realm of plant science. Zoologists, particularly those investigating the food habits of certain animals, must be equipped to do a certain amount of seed identification.

General seed morphology is closely allied with seed taxonomy, furnishing the groundwork of information by which seeds may be distinguished and classified. It would appear, in many cases;, that structural characteristics will elucidate or verify the definition, position or relationships of various taxonomic categories; thus such characters would be of interest to the general systematist. Seed morphology, furthermore, has pertinent reference to seed physiology. To one making an inquiry into the germinative requirements of certain plant species, a knowledge of the structure of the seeds concerned is almost essential. The morphological nature of the seed, particularly that of the seed coat, frequently suggests the proper procedure in inducing seeds to germinate, or it may explain germinative peculiarities or behavior under varied conditions; differences in germinative behavior are frequently correlated with structural divergences.



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