What is anemocoria?

Once the seeds have completed their development they have only just begun their life. Now, they have to move away from their parents (or parent, if it comes from a hermaphroditic plant) in order to germinate and, then yes, take root. But there are several ways to get to other places, and each species of plant has evolved to adapt to the one that works best for you.

And of all those ways, the most, let’s say, easy, is what is known as anemocory. This is a term that refers to those seeds that are dispersed thanks to air currents, and they do it very, very well.

Table of Contents

  • 1 What is anemocoria?
  • 2 Types of seeds that are dispersed with the wind
    • 2.1 Winged seeds
    • 2.2 Villains
  • 3 Special case: steppe plants, or rolling plants
  • 4 (More) plants with seeds that scatter with the wind
    • 4.1 Gyrocarpus
    • 4.2 Populus
    • 4.3 Salix

What is anemocoria?

There are air currents all over the planet, and there are also plants practically all over the globe. So, there are many that produce seeds with a structure that helps them to disperse. This allows them to move away from their parents, and that it can germinate far from it, thus avoiding the territorial and nutritional competition that, otherwise, there would be.

In addition, it is also an opportunity for the species to diversify its genes, since the conditions that the seed will find in that new place will be different from those in which its parents live. The simple fact that the climate is a little warmer, colder, or drier or wetter, is going to force that future plant to adapt to the best of its ability. And if you succeed, it may be etched in your genes, which could be passed on to future generations.

Types of seeds that are dispersed with the wind

The seeds that use the wind to get away are those that are light, enough so that the wind can first separate them from the mother plant, and then take them with it several meters, or kilometers depending on the case and the conditions of the area. . Generally, there are two fairly common types:

Winged seeds

View of a winged seed, a disámara

The winged seeds are those that are made up of the seed itself, which is usually more or less rounded and brown or blackish, and a very thin and dry wing. Of these, there are several types:

  • Samara: it is the one that only has one wing, as for example occurs in pines.
  • Disamara: they are two samaras joined by the seed part, but they can be separated once they are fully ripe. For example, it is the one that the arces.
  • Trisamara: there are three samaras. You don’t see much, but for example the species Hiptage benghalensis, an evergreen liana native to India and Southeast Asia, produces them.


Dandelion seeds scatter in the wind

The vilanos they are like flexible or stiff hairs, usually white, that have many flowers of plants of the Asteraceae family, a family that groups many species of herbs that we can find in the field and / or in the gardens, such as the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), or the sunflower (Helianthus annuus).

These hairs allow the seed to leave the flower, and from there be transported by the wind.

Special case: steppe plants, or rolling plants

Have you ever seen a video in which a dry plant rolled through the desert? Well, these types of plants are known as steppents, and they are the ones that the wind can blow away.

These are typical of arid and semi-arid regions of the Earth, and they are for me the ones who have adopted the most extreme adaptation strategy, but at the same time the most curious. And, if we think about it, what is better than the parent plant of those seeds that is responsible for leaving them in a good place while protecting them until the wind leaves them at their destination?

If the weather is hot and dry, if the seed is exposed to the sun for longer than adequate, what will happen is that it will burn and will not germinate. Therefore, although extreme, the solution made by this type of plants is very effective.

Two examples are the Kali Salsola and Lechenaultia divaricata. The first is an annual herb known as Barrel, native to Eurasia, which grows on sandy soils; the second is also an annual herb, but we will find it in North America.

(More) plants with seeds that scatter with the wind

To finish, we leave you with a list of plants whose seeds use the wind to get away from their parents:


View of the seeds of the Gyrocarpus americanus

Image – Wikimedia / Forestowlet

They are a genus of deciduous trees or shrubs native to North America. They can reach heights between 2 and 15 meters, and have entire leaves, or with 3 or 5 lobes. The flowers appear in great numbers, and can be staminate or hermaphroditic. The fruits are egg-shaped or elliptical, and contain a winged seed.


View of Populus seeds

The Populus, or poplars, are fast-growing deciduous trees native to the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere mostly. They can reach a height of between 10 and 30 meters in height, and their leaves are simple and alternate, with entire edges, serrated or lobed. The flowers are grouped in catkins, and the fruits are brown capsules when ripe. These contain numerous small seeds.


View of the Salix purpurea

Image – Wikimedia / Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz

The Salix, or willows, are a genus of deciduous or semi-evergreen trees native to the temperate and cold regions of the northern hemisphere. They can reach an average height of 12 meters, and can develop aerial roots. The leaves are elongated or round. The flowers are also catkins.

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What is anemocoria?

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