When plant seeds or fungi spores are released from their parent reproductive organs it’s often difficult for us to see or understand their respective mechanisms of action. i.e. exactly what is happening. This difficulty is, variously, because of the small size of components, the complexity of action or the high speed of movement.

This talk by Reg Harris, drawing on detailed research and associated illustrations, will look at the fine details of seed and spore release. He will give several examples of the mechanisms involved, characterising them as, variously, ‘catapult’, ‘ejection seat’, ‘slingshot’, ‘cannon’ and ‘gas-bubble’.

Rights: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Fern spores

Ferns reproduce by sending out tiny spores. Other spore plants include mosses, liverworts and green algae.

The talk will also briefly address tactics used by plants and fungi for the dispersal of seeds and spores following their release into the wider environment.

Finally, as an ‘extra’, the talk will reveal how the working principles of plant and fungi shooting mechanisms can be used to provide important clues in the design of dedicated artificial shooting mechanisms in medical practice. For example, mechanisms able to be used for puncturing biological tissues with high accuracy (needed in biopsies, particularly of tumours and deep tissue) after being guided by molecular imaging.

This talk is free and you’re welcome to bring along your own ‘brown bag’ lunch to enjoy during the talk.

Location: Treehouse Seminar Room, Wellington Botanic Garden, 101 Glenmore St, Kelburn, Wellington.

Related content

We have a lot of resources on pollination – this article introduces are resources and Pollination resources – planning pathways is great to use help connect students to authentic scientific processes and purposes. For younger students, see Seeds, stems and spores – introduction. We also have resources on fungi, start with All about fungi, or the te reo Māori version Tēnei mea te hekaheka.

See also these articles seed dispersal and Te haenga me te ruinga o te kākano ❘ Pollination and seed dispersal. For more related to fungi, see Fungal life cycles – spores and more, or the te reo Māori version Ngā hurihanga ora o te hekaheka – ngā pua atua me ētahi atu hanga.

Activity ideas

These two activities are great to do with your younger students and look at seed dispersal and spores:

For more on plants, try these activities:

For more resources linking science and gardens and plants, see our Garden collection – full of resources to support planning to develop a school garden. Log in to make this collection part of your private collection, just click on the copy icon. You can then add additional content and notes and make other changes).

We also have a Garden science Pinterest board.

See all events