A Seed That Buries Itself?!
Posted: May 1, 2023
A tightly coiled stalk twists into the soil. A seed takes root.
God designed self-burying seeds. Now people have found a way to make them too.
Lining Yao grew up as the daughter of part-time farmers in Mongolia. As an adult, Dr. Yao kept thinking, How can we help seeds grow in hard-to-plant places?
Dr. Yao studied Erodium, a five-petaled flower. Certain varieties of the plant’s seeds use the self-burying method. Each seed is surrounded by a narrow, spiraling stalk with a long, curved tail. Moisture—like rain or humidity—causes the stalk to unwind. Boing! The stalk pushes upward and drills the seed into the soil. Genius!
Dr. Yao saw that genius. She worked with a team to make a similar device out of wood. She imagined this: Release self-burying seed carriers from the sky. Time it perfectly. Drop during a rain shower. The seeds will open and plant themselves!
Her team invented “E-seed.” Instead of a single tail, it has three. That design makes it perfect for pushing itself into soil.
Dr. Yao knew she was onto something when she talked to her farmer dad. She says that when she “mentioned the idea to him, he got it immediately.”
Researchers believe E-seeds could also carry fertilizers, fungi, plant-friendly worms—perhaps even seedlings—to remote places.
Just like Erodium seeds, E-seeds need rain to work. Dr. Yao calls seeds’ response to rain “magic.” But seeds that self-plant aren’t magic. They’re evidence of God’s kindness.
O God, . . . my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. — Psalm 63:1
Why? The drilling motion of a God-designed seed can be harnessed to make more things grow in difficult environments.