Did You Know Plants Can Hitch A Ride?

A man walking in a forest

Plants can’t move but they have evolved many interesting ways for seeds to colonise new areas. These include parachuting from treetops, blowing in the wind, floating down rivers, attaching to passing animals, being eaten and deposited in excrement, and even exploding when hit by rain drops.

Did you know that we can also distribute seeds over considerable distances when walking in the countryside? Research has shown that wild plant seeds can hitch rides on our shoes and travel for kilometers [1]. This can be even more effective than blowing in the wind. While relatively unusual, the few seeds which travel such long distances on our shoes can have an important impact on species distribution, especially invasive species.

David Attenborough lying on grass

[1] Plant Seeds Hitch Rides on Traveling Shoes - The New York Times