The Life Cycle
When a seed falls to the ground it starts what is often referred to as The Life Cycle. Once in the ground the seed needs water and warmth to start the next step in growth called germination. Germination is when the seed swells taking in water and nutrients and starts to grow. After the germination process has started the seed forms a root that will search for food and water in the soil to help the seed grow. With heat and moisture the seed starts to form it's first leaves underground. The sprout needs to get those leaves to the surface to absorb more food and to grow, so the sprout pushes up as the roots grow downward. The root now forms tiny lateral roots. Next the cotyledon forces upwards protecting the tender leaves between them. The leaves are referred to as plumule leaves. When the leaves are up out of the ground they open and start to make food for the plant from oxygen and light. This is called photosynthesis. The cotyledons are not needed any more so they wither and fall off. The leaves grow and the stem starts to stretch upward. This stage of growth takes quite a while in some plants. The root system grows downward and outward to provide a foundation for the growing plant. After a while a bud starts to form. Inside the bud a flower forms. The bud consists of many layers of flower parts. When they are fully formed the flower opens up and the true beauty inside is revealed and their scent is released. This attracts butterflies, bees, flies, and other insects that aid in pollination from flower to flower. Once pollinated, the seeds can ripen and be distributed by the wind and other animals eating them and thus carrying them to other places. Seeds can even explode out of the seed pods! Once the seeds are in different places, the life cycle continues once again.
General Things About Plants
Most people do not recognize the importance of plants, when in fact plants play an influential part in our daily lives. Plants take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen which we breathe in. Without plants, we would not have clean air to breathe!
Plants grow in every region of the world. Heat, light, and water are basic essential needs for all except the simplest types of plants. Most flowers can't thrive without pollination, one way pollination is done is by insects, mainly by bees, butterflies, and fruitflies. Pollination is when pollen from the anther is transferred to the stigma to make seeds.
Some flowers do not need pollination to produce seeds for reproduction, their roots are designed to reproduce on their own. There are several kinds of roots that reproduce, rhizomes, stolons, bulbs, runners, corms, and tubers. Because of Alaska's short summers a lot of wild flowers reproduce in this way. Rhizomes are underground stems that grow just under the surface of the soil where every so often a flower shoots up. Alaska's blue irises reproduce this way. A corm resembles small underground leaves wrapped around each other similar to an onion, that new corms grow from. A bulb is similar to a corm but reproduces in the same place each year without moving. A tuber is a big group of swollen stems that act as a storage chamber, each of which can form a new plant after the main plant has died. A runner is sent above ground and roots grow out to anchor the new plant. All strawberries can reproduce this way.
If you would like more in depth information on plants and our environment, this is the best resource we found. However, if you are interested in trying your hand at growing your own Alaskan Wildflowers, this article will provide you with invaluable information.
Written by Melissa and Jeremy
Animation drawn and animated by Melissa