This photo essay is adapted from the exhibition “Designed to Move: Seeds That Float, Fly or Hitchhike through the Desert Southwest,” organized by the Biomimicry Center at Arizona State University in collaboration with the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix; ASU’s Herbarium; ASU’s School of Arts, Media and Engineering; and ASU’s Design School.
Ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan got it right. Plants are nouns, he once wrote. Seeds are verbs. Plants are rooted in place. Seeds are designed to move.
This is the inherent paradox in the life of most plants. They are attached to the earth, but their offspring must travel to find a safe site in which to germinate and flourish. Faced with this dilemma, seeds have evolved ingenious solutions to the challenges and opportunities of moving through their environments—whether in a tundra or prairie, forest or grassland, chaparral or desert.