- Date: before 12th century
81 a (1) : the grains or ripened ovules of plants used for sowing (2) : the fertilized ripened ovule of a flowering plant containing an embryo and capable normally of germination to produce a new plant; broadly : a propagative plant structure (as a spore or small dry fruit) b : a propagative animal structure: (1) : milt, semen (2) : a small egg (as of an insect) (3) : a developmental form of a lower animal suitable for transplanting; specifically : spat c : the condition or stage of bearing seed <in seed>
- 2 : progeny
- 3 : a source of development or growth : germ <sowed the seeds of discord>
- 4 : something (as a tiny particle or a bubble in glass) that resembles a seed in shape or size
- 5 : a competitor who has been seeded in a tournament <the top seed>
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant. The formation of the seed completes the process of reproduction in seed plants (started with the development of flowers and pollination), with the embryo developed from the zygote and the seed coat from the integuments of the ovule.
Seeds have been an important development in the reproduction and spread of flowering plants, relative to more primitive plants like mosses, ferns and liverworts, which do not have seeds and use other means to propagate themselves. This can be seen by the success of seed plants (both gymnosperms and angiosperms) in dominating biological niches on land, from forests to grasslands both in hot and cold climates.
The term seed also has a general meaning that predates the above — anything that can be sown i.e. "seed" potatoes, "seeds" of corn or sunflower "seeds". In the case of sunflower and corn "seeds", what is sown is the seed enclosed in a shell or hull, and the potato is a tuber.