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Picture This: The world’s biggest seed

It grows on palms and can weigh more than a toddler

A traveler shows off a massive coco-de-mer nut. This palm seed’s shape isn’t obvious until an outer green husk is stripped off.

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May 21, 2015 at 6:00 am

The secret behind the world’s largest seed is leaves that serve as good gutters. During rains, they channel lots of water and nutrients right to the plant’s thirsty roots.

Coco-de-mer palms (Lodoicea maldivica) produce these monster nuts, which are a type of seed. The biggest can tip the scales at up to 18 kilograms (roughly 40 pounds). That’s about as much as a 4-year-old boy. Yet the palm outperforms all other plants — at least in seed heft — with a below-poverty diet. These plants grow wild on nutrient-starved, rocky soil on just two islands in the Seychelles. (They’re part of an arc of some 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off of the East Coast of Africa.)

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Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury works for the Seychelles Islands Foundation. Despite a scarcity of nutrients to fuel its growth, a palm forest is “magnificent — it’s like a dinosaur could come around the corner,” he says. Winds can jostle hectares (acres) of stiff leaves. This makes a sound he describes as “crackling.”

Nitrogen and phosphorus are two natural fertilizers — nutrients — that these (and other plants) need. There isn’t much of either on the islands where these palms grow. So the plants are frugal. They sprout fronds using only about one-third the nutrients needed by leaves of 56 neighboring species of trees and shrubs. What’s more, coco-de-mer palms scavenge a lot of the nutrients shed in their own dying leaves. These trees can reuse 90 percent of that prized phosphorus from the fronds it’s about to drop. That’s a record for the plant world, report Kaiser-Bunbury and his colleagues in the May New Phytologist.

Creating its monster seeds uses up about 85 percent of this plant’s supplies of phosphorus, the biologists estimate. And the palms manage this, the researchers conclude, thanks to drainage. The palm’s curving leaves easily can span 2 meters (6.6 feet). Creases in them make the leaves resemble folded paper fans. Any rains falling on them will funnel down the stems. That water washes animal droppings, stray pollen and other materials — a nutrient windfall — off of the palm and onto its hungry roots.

Each giant seed takes a long time to grow, about six years. But that won’t happen until the palm first reaches plant “puberty.” On the nutrient-poor ground, this reproductive coming-of-age may take 80 to 100 years. Only then can one of these palms yield its first seed. Throughout a female coco-de-mer palm’s life of several hundred years, it may bear only about 100 seeds.

Few of those monster coconuts will get a chance to replenish the dwindling coco-de-mer forests, however. Kaiser-Bunbury calculates that 20 to 30 percent of the endangered species’ seeds must sprout to keep the forests growing and healthy. But that hasn’t been happening. Nut poachers have been illegally kidnapping the seeds. Then they grind them into a powder that they sell.

Power Words

(for more about Power Words, click here)

fertilizer Nitrogen and other plant nutrients added to soil, water or foliage to boost crop growth or to replenish nutrients that removed earlier by plant roots or leaves.

nitrogen A colorless, odorless and nonreactive gaseous element that forms about 78 percent of Earth’s atmosphere. Its scientific symbol is N. Nitrogen is released in the form of nitrogen oxides as fossil fuels burn.

nut (in biology) The edible seed of a plant, which is usually encased in a hard protective shell.

nutrients Vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates and proteins needed by organisms to live, and which are extracted through the diet.

palm A type of evergreen tree that sprouts a crown of large fan-shaped leaves. Most of the roughly 2,600 different species of palms are tropical or semitropical.

See also  dutch treat weed seeds

phytology A field of biology devoted to the scientific study of plants.

poach (in ecology) To illegally hunt and take a wild animal or plant. People who do this are referred to as poachers.

phosphorus A highly reactive, nonmetallic element occurring naturally in phosphates. Its scientific symbol is P.

puberty A developmental period in humans and other primates when the body undergoes hormonal changes that will result in the maturation of reproductive organs.

scavenge To collect something useful from what had been discarded as waste or trash.

shrub A perennial plant that grows in a generally low, bushy form.

Citations

J. Richardson. “Desert Plants: The ultimate survivors.” Science News for Students. January 30, 2015.

K. Kowalski. “Explainer: What is a gene bank?” Science News for Students. January 9, 2015.

K. Hulick. “Rare as a rhino.” Science News for Students. October 2, 2014.

Original Journal Source: P.J. Edwards et al. The nutrient economy of Lodoicea maldiva, a monodominant palm producing the world’s largest seed. New Phytologist. Vol. 206, May 2015, p. 990. doi: 10.1111/nph.13272.

About Susan Milius

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Susan Milius is the life sciences writer at Science News, covering organismal biology and evolution, and has a special passion for plants, fungi and invertebrates. She studied biology and English literature.

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Leech Seed (move)

Leech Seed (Japanese: やどりぎのタネ Mistletoe Seed) is a non-damaging Grass-type move introduced in Generation I.

Contents

Effect

Generation I

Leech Seed plants a seed on the target. After a target under the effect of Leech Seed takes its turn, 1 /16 of its HP will be drained (rounded down, but not less than 1), and the same amount of HP will be restored to the target’s opponent (even if it was not the Pokémon that originally used the attack). Recurrent Leech Seed draining will not occur if the seeded Pokémon defeats the target. Unlike other types of damage, the recurrent damage done by Leech Seed can exceed the target’s current HP. Leech Seed will not work against Grass-type Pokémon, and attempts to seed an already-seeded Pokémon will fail.

Leech Seed draining will occur even if the seeded Pokémon knocks itself out with crash damage, recoil damage, or self-inflicted confusion damage, or by making a substitute before the end of its turn. Draining from Leech Seed is done after continuing partial trapping damage and recurrent poison or burn damage. Leech Seed can be removed by Haze or switching. If the target is seeded during a round that it switches in, it will take recurrent damage during that round, but only if its speed is less than or equal to the user’s speed.

If the target of Leech Seed is also under the effect of Toxic (or was under that effect and healed itself with Rest), because Leech Seed and Toxic both use the same damage algorithm, Leech Seed damage will be affected by Toxic’s N parameter, and will increase each turn.

In the Pokémon Stadium series and Japanese cartridges, Leech Seed will not work against a target with a substitute.

Generation II

⅛ of the target’s HP is drained instead. Rapid Spin will release a Pokémon from the effects of Leech Seed. Also, Leech Seed no longer interacts with Toxic damage and Haze no longer affects Leech Seed. If a Pokémon uses Baton Pass, Leech Seed will still be in effect, even if the switched in Pokémon is a Grass type. The user can no longer plant a seed on a target with a substitute (but setting up a substitute does not release a Pokémon from existing effects of Leech Seed).

Generation III onwards

Leech Seed will now drain HP at the end of each turn.

In battles involving multiple Pokémon, Leech Seed will only heal the Pokémon that is in the same position as the Pokémon that originally used Leech Seed was in. If no Pokémon is in that position (for example, if it fainted and could not be replaced), Leech Seed will not take any health from the seeded Pokémon. However, if a Pokémon is later able to occupy that position (if it was revived), Leech Seed will once again sap HP from the seeded Pokémon. While a Pokémon is seeded, even if it cannot have its health drained due to there being no Pokémon in the appropriate slot to drain its HP, it cannot be affected by Leech Seed again.

Leech Seed can be used as part of a Pokémon Contest combination, with the user gaining an extra two appeal points if Growth was used in the prior turn. It is also part of a Contest Spectacular combination, with the user gaining an extra three appeal points if Rototiller was used in the prior turn.

If the target has the Ability Liquid Ooze, the beneficiary Pokémon takes damage instead of restoring HP. If the user is under the effect of Heal Block, Leech Seed will not restore any of the user’s HP. However, the effect damage will be dealt normally. If the user has a Big Root as its held item, it will recover 30% more HP than it normally would. Big Root does not increase damage dealt. All other effects remain the same.

If powered up by a Grassium Z into Z-Leech Seed, all of the user’s lowered stats are reset.

Using Sappy Seed will plant a Leech Seed on the target if it hits.

Description

Learnset

By leveling up

# Pokémon Types Egg Groups Level
I II III IV V VI VII VIII
001 Bulbasaur Monster Grass 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 US UM
9 P E
9
002 Ivysaur Monster Grass 1, 7 1, 7 1, 7 1, 7 1, 7 1, 7 1, 7 S M US UM
1, 9 P E
9
003 Venusaur Monster Grass 1, 7 1, 7 1, 7 1, 7 1, 7 1, 7 1, 7 S M US UM
1, 9 P E
9
047 Parasect Bug Grass 1 P E
102 Exeggcute Grass Grass 28 13 13 11 11 11 11 S M US UM
34 P E
10
103 Exeggutor Grass Grass 1
103 Exeggutor
Alolan Form
Grass Grass 1
114 Tangela Grass Grass 39 P E
187 Hoppip Fairy Grass 20 20 22 22 22 22 22 BD SP
188 Skiploom Fairy Grass 22 22 24 24 24 24 24 BD SP
189 Jumpluff Fairy Grass 22 22 24 24 24 24 24 BD SP
191 Sunkern Grass Grass 17 17 B W
13 B2 W2
13 13 13 BD SP
192 Sunflora Grass Grass 17 17 B W
13 B2 W2
13 13 13 BD SP
251 Celebi Undiscovered Undiscovered 1 1 1 1 1 1 50
285 Shroomish Fairy Grass 10 13 13 13 X Y
8 OR AS
8 8 BD SP
286 Breloom Fairy Grass 1, 10 1, 13 1, 13 1, 13 X Y
1, 8 OR AS
1, 8 1, 8 BD SP
315 Roselia Fairy Grass 21 16 16 16 16 10
331 Cacnea Grass Human-Like 13 13 13 13 X Y
10 OR AS
10 10 BD SP
332 Cacturne Grass Human-Like 13 13 13 13 X Y
10 OR AS
10 10 BD SP
346 Cradily Water 3 Water 3 1
387 Turtwig Monster Grass 29 29 29 29 29 BD SP
388 Grotle Monster Grass 32 32 32 32 32 BD SP
389 Torterra Monster Grass 33 33 33 33 33 BD SP
407 Roserade Fairy Grass 1
420 Cherubi Fairy Grass 10 10 10 10 26
421 Cherrim Fairy Grass 10 10 10 1, 10 28
470 Leafeon Field Field 20
492 Shaymin
Land Forme
Undiscovered Undiscovered 19 19 19 19 19 BD SP
492 Shaymin
Sky Forme
Undiscovered Undiscovered 19 Pt HG SS 19 19 19 19 BD SP
495 Snivy Field Grass 19 19 19
496 Servine Field Grass 20 20 20
497 Serperior Field Grass 20 20 20
511 Pansage Field Field 16 16 16
546 Cottonee Grass Fairy 8 8 8 30
547 Whimsicott Grass Fairy 1 1 1 1
548 Petilil Grass Grass 8 8 8 24
549 Lilligant Grass Grass 1 1 1 1
556 Maractus Grass Grass 12
585 Deerling Field Field 13 13 13
586 Sawsbuck Field Field 13 13 13
650 Chespin Field Field 15 15
651 Quilladin Field Field 15 15
652 Chesnaught Field Field 15 15
672 Skiddo Field Field 12 12
673 Gogoat Field Field 12 12
708 Phantump Grass Amorphous 23 23 8
709 Trevenant Grass Amorphous 23 23 1
710 Pumpkaboo Amorphous Amorphous 20 20 16
711 Gourgeist Amorphous Amorphous 20 20 16
764 Comfey Grass Grass 4 21
787 Tapu Bulu Undiscovered Undiscovered 26 15
797 Celesteela Undiscovered Undiscovered 19 55
841 Flapple Grass Dragon 12
842 Appletun Grass Dragon 12
898 Calyrex Undiscovered Undiscovered 64
898 Calyrex
Ice Rider
Undiscovered Undiscovered 64
898 Calyrex
Shadow Rider
Undiscovered Undiscovered 64
Bold indicates a Pokémon gains STAB from this move.
Italics indicates a Pokémon whose evolution or alternate form receives STAB from this move.

By breeding

# Pokémon Types Parent
Egg Groups
Egg Move
II III IV V VI VII VIII
043 Oddish Grass Grass
046 Paras Bug Grass BD SP
114 Tangela Grass Grass
152 Chikorita Monster Grass BD SP
191 Sunkern Grass Grass BD SP
252 Treecko Monster Dragon
270 Lotad Water 1 Grass
273 Seedot Field Grass
357 Tropius Monster Grass BD SP
455 Carnivine Grass Grass BD SP
459 Snover Monster Grass
556 Maractus Grass Grass
597 Ferroseed Grass Mineral
755 Morelull Grass Grass
810 Grookey Field Grass
829 Gossifleur Grass Grass
Bold indicates a Pokémon gains STAB from this move.
Italics indicates a Pokémon whose evolution or alternate form receives STAB from this move.

Special move

Generation III
# Pokémon Types Egg Groups Obtained with
273 Seedot Field Grass Mass outbreak – Route 102, 117 and 120
274 Nuzleaf Field Grass Mass outbreak – Route 114
Bold indicates a Pokémon gains STAB from this move.
Italics indicates a Pokémon whose evolution or alternate form receives STAB from this move.
Generation V
# Pokémon Types Egg Groups Obtained with
114 Tangela Grass Grass Dream World – Pleasant Forest
270 Lotad Water 1 Grass Dream World – Pleasant Forest
357 Tropius Monster Grass Dream World – Windswept Sky
556 Maractus Grass Grass Dream World – Rugged Mountain
Bold indicates a Pokémon gains STAB from this move.
Italics indicates a Pokémon whose evolution or alternate form receives STAB from this move.
Generation VII
# Pokémon Types Egg Groups Obtained with
152 Chikorita Monster Grass Island Scan – Route 2 S M
Bold indicates a Pokémon gains STAB from this move.
Italics indicates a Pokémon whose evolution or alternate form receives STAB from this move.

By event

Generation II
# Pokémon Types Egg Groups Obtained with
043 Oddish Grass Grass New York Pokémon Center
Bold indicates a Pokémon gains STAB from this move.
Italics indicates a Pokémon whose evolution or alternate form receives STAB from this move.
Generation III
# Pokémon Types Egg Groups Obtained with
043 Oddish Grass Grass Egg Pokémon Present
Bold indicates a Pokémon gains STAB from this move.
Italics indicates a Pokémon whose evolution or alternate form receives STAB from this move.

In other games

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series

In Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team, and Explorers of Time, Darkness and Sky, Leech Seed is a move with 17PP and 100% accuracy. The user targets enemy in front, inflicting them with Leech Seed status condition. A Pokémon affected by Leech Seed will be dealt 10 HP damage at the end of every second turn, and 10 HP returned to the user. The status lasts 11-12 turns. This move is affected by Magic Coat and Taunt.

From Gates to Infinity, the Pokémon affected by Leech Seed will be dealt 5 HP damage every second turn, and 5 HP returned to the user. The status lasts 6 turns.

Super Smash Bros. series

In Super Smash Bros. Melee, Leech Seed is one of the random outcomes of Togepi’s Metronome. All characters within the area of effect will receive a flower on their head that causes 5% damage every few seconds.