Gereon Janzing, geobotánico y etnobotánico
Gereon Janzing, geobotánico y etnobotánico

Biological dispersal

Plants unlike most animals cannot move on their own. So for spreading their offspring they need some propagation or dispersal mechanism. In most cases it is the seeds that are propagated, in many cases together with the fruits. The organs of propagation, whether seeds, fruits, spores or little plants, are called propagules. Plants can be classified according to the propagators.

Plants that are dispersed by the wind are called anemochore. The organs often have wings or umbrella-like pappuses (like the dandelion) to carry them with the wind. Fungi are usually anemochore, their spores (not seeds) are easily spread out by the wind.

Plants that are dispersed by water are called hydrochore, like the seagrass.

Plants that are dispersed by animals are called zoochore. They are distinguished: The organs of epizoochore plants are carried outside of animals, for example hooking themselves into the fur. (like the marigold) The organs of endozoochore plants are eaten and come out with the excrements. This latter is usually the case with edible fruits which contain small seeds like tomatoes.

Moreover the zoochore plants can be classified according to the animals they disperse them: Myrmecochore plants are dispersed by ants, saurochore plants by lizards, ornithochore plants by birds.

French: dispersion