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Name: Rae
Status: other
Grade: other
Location: NV
Country: N/A
Date: 4/29/2005

Is a pine cone a seed or a seed coat that contains seeds inside? Our Pre-k students would like to know.

Actually, it's neither. Here is a very technical answer, to be followed by a simpler one:

A pine cone is a complex structure that contains either microsporangia (if it is a male cone) or megasporangia (if it is a female cone). These sporangia produce spores, which develop into gametophytes. The microsporangia produce microspores, which develop into pollen grains (technically called microgametophytes); the megasporangia produce megaspores, which develop into the structures we call "pine nuts" (technically megagametophytes). Fertilization happens when pollen grains are ensnared by megagametophytes and release their sperm. The resulting embryo then develops inside the megagametophyte (carefully split open a pine nut lengthwise sometime... you'll see it in there). Eventually, the embryo will absorb the entire megagametophyte and it will be covered by a thin, papery membrane. This is a seed - a young embryo surrounded by a seed coat. All of this happens inside the female pine cone; it takes about 3 years in pines. Finally, when the seeds are mature, the pine cone opens and the seeds are released, most of them immediately becoming squirrel food.

Here's a simpler answer: a pine cone is a structure that makes seeds, including the seed coat.

Christopher Perkins

Actually pine trees are known as gymnosperms, or having naked seeds. The prefix gymno- means "naked" in Greek. It is from the same root as gymnasium and gymnastics because the ancient Greeks competed/worked out naked! Anyway-seeds for the pine trees are found on the outside of the segments of a cone. As it opens it puts tension on the segments and the seeds pop off and fall to the ground. The other type of plant is called an angiosperm-which means "vessel seed" because the seeds are found inside a fruit.

Van Hoeck

The seeds are inside of the pine cone.

Possibly helpful:

Anthony Brach Ph.D.

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