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February 16, 2012

the seedy side of plants.

They fly, float, hitchhike -- and even explode. But the many clever ways seeds get around make sense: after all, a plant's life depends on finding fertile ground in which to grow. The quest for survival has even led plants to develop delightful and devious ways of fooling us into working for them as they send their seeds out to conquer new lands.

There is no doubt that plants are one of the world's most successful life forms. Indeed, Earth is a planet of plants, with millions of kinds growing in virtually every environment imaginable, from the driest deserts to the wettest jungles. Even paved parking lots often display a few tufts of tough grass poking up through the cracks. But it didn't take a gardener's green thumb to design this global garden. Plants did it themselves, millions of years before humans ever appeared, by evolving countless methods of producing and spreading seeds. These tiny packages of genetic material have proven an almost unstoppable means of ensuring a species' survival.

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