Vivipary means “giving live birth’ – which although we find this quite normal for us mammals –  it looks strange when plants do it.  Also known as phyllody, it describes a condition that occurs when the embryo within the seed breaks through the seed coat while still attached to the parent plant. It is quite rare.

True vivipary is a genetic condition usually only seen among plant communities located in shallow, marine habitats in tropical or subtropical regions, such as mangroves or sea grasses.

Mangrove plant with seeds attached and sprouted ! Thank you QUORA.

 

Why?  Simple – seeds evolved as a means to bring the next generation to a new environment that could be better or at least beneficial and far from the parent (for low competition). But in these vivipary environments the probability of an offspring being dispersed to a patch better than the parental one is very low – so the seed is better off in the spot where the parent is !

Because of this, these seeds also have no need for dormancy as in most other seeds. Rather than waiting to be dispersed before germinating, viviparous seeds germinate inside of fruits that are still attached to their parent plants.

A mimic type of asexual reproduction called pseudovivipary can be found in arctic, alpine or arid environments.  But these are not germinating seeds but instead bulbils or plantlets in the flower head.

Sprouting bulbils in flower head.  Thank you researchgate.com

 

Occasionally, seeds germinate inside tomatoes, citrus, squash, and other fruits; however, these fruits are usually overripe and often detached from the plant. In these instances, what is referred to as “vivipary” is not a genetic predisposition or part of the reproductive strategy. It’s just happenstance – a fun anomaly.

 

Thanks Amusing Planet !            Thank you Reddit !                    Thank you Izismile !

 

Sometimes an environmental stress causes the vivipary to occur.  You may have seen this in strawberries.  Safe to eat ( but not very tasty) these sprouted seeds are stunted and will not produce any roots – so no luck planting them in your garden.  The reason is cold damage to the runners (that is where next years plants come from) over the winter causes a physiological change expressed as seed sprouting!

 

 

Thank you twitter.com

 

Thank you researchgate.com

 

 

…  shall we plant you some strawberries in your garden !!!!

ask your gardener to get some for you !!!

 

 

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Article written by our Staff Horticulturist, Peter B Morris, BSc, MSc, MBA