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Seeds that Feed

What’s in a seed? A whole lot! Inside each seed is a tiny embryo, containing all the genetic information required to grow a new plant. 

The Australian PlantBank at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan contains over one hundred million special seeds, from over 10,000 collections. Plantbanks and seedbanks have always been important resources for agriculture, horticulture and medicine, but we all have an important role in saving plant species from extinction. Learn how to help protect the earth’s biodiversity with the magic of seeds. 

Explore the fascinating features of seeds and the role they play in keeping us fed and clothed. Investigate the different types of seed-bearing plants and their uses for humans, animals and other plants. Discover how seeds grow and the role that you can play in ensuring good seeds stick around for a long time to come. 

Science and Technology

ST2-1WS-S A student questions, plans and conducts scientific investigations, collects and summarises data and communicates using scientific representations

ST2-2DP-T A student selects and uses materials, tools and equipment to develop solutions for a need or opportunity

ST2-5LW-T A student describes how agricultural processes are used to grow plants and raise animals for food, clothing and shelter 

Focus question: How do we create food and fibre products from animals and plants? 
  • Literacy 
  • Ethical understanding
  • Critical and Creative Thinking 
  • Personal and Social 
  • Intercultural Understanding 
Did you know? 
  • PlantBank is the award-winning home of plant conservation research, located at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan? Read more about the vital research being conducted by scientists at the Australian PlantBank.  
  • Poppy plants (especially their seeds) are used for many purposes. Open the worksheet here to learn more about their special role in food, medicine and for remembering those who've died in battle. 
  • The Australian PlantBank is a member of Australian Seed Bank Partnership, an alliance of 12 organisations, bringing together expertise from Australia’s leading botanic gardens, state environment agencies and NGOs. 
  • Agricultural scientist Bruce French has been cataloguing food plants for five decades as detailed in this ABC news report

Further reading 
  • The science that is saving the banana industry, plus see photos and listen to a podcast about it.  
  • Watermelons, like bananas, are vulnerable to fungal diseases. Read about how scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens are conducting vital research into protecting watermelon cash crops in Laos from fungal disease. 
  • The secret life of seeds -  Read more here about how PlantBank’s seed and tissue culture collections provide an insurance policy against extinction of native plants in the wild. 
  • Seed biology Research - Seedbanks have always been important resources for agriculture, horticulture, medicine and other plant uses. Today, a seedbank’s most urgent purpose is saving plant species; helping to preserve the earth’s biodiversity. 
  • The Rainforest seed conservation project - This project aims to increase the global capacity to conserve rainforest plants by investigating the storability of seeds of Australian species and developing methods for preserving those not suitable for seedbanking.