Bite-size Biomimicry: Seeds

Lily Urmann
2 min readNov 18, 2021

How do seeds move efficiently through a variety of mediums?

Image courtesy Claud Richmond via Unsplash

In order to ensure that the next generation survives, plants have MANY different distribution strategies for their seeds.

Some seeds need fire to release (ensuring there is less undergrowth to compete for light), some float downstream, some fly far away to establish a new habitat, some are carried in the fur of animals, some need to be eaten/digested to germinate, and some can even dig themselves into the ground! (Check out the storksbill seed’s coil that expands and contracts based on humidity)

Seeds have adapted to harness available energy such as wind, water, and other living creatures in order to spread their genetic material and give the next generation the best chance of survival. The FORM informs FUNCTION, and we can learn from the infinite examples of seeds in nature to inspire our own designs.

Bonus fun fact! Did you know that one of the earliest examples of biomimicry is velcro, developed in the early 20th century? George de Mestral noticed how well burdock burrs attached to his dog’s fur, and after looking at them under a microscope he invented a material with a similar hook/loop system — velcro. This design changed the game, especially for creating light-weight materials for space travel for NASA in the 60’s. It’s definitely not “deep” biomimicry, as the material itself is made out of plastic and shipped around the globe, but it’s a good story to get the creative juices flowing.

What ideas do you have about how we can learn from seeds?

Watch my TikTok video exploring seeds here.