Donate Now
What's On
Get Involved
Word of the Week: Elaiosome
April 24, 2019 by Sammy Tangir

Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Check out the elaiosome on these Bloodroot seeds, it is the small white blob attached to the orange seed. (Photo by Sammy Tangir)

Elaiosome [e-LAI-o-some] (noun): An oil and protein rich structure (or tissue) attached to or surrounding the seeds of certain plants.

Come spring, the forest is home to spring ephemerals! These short lived plants often cover the forest floor, but have you ever wondered how they spread their seeds so widely?

Many common spring ephemerals like Bloodroot, Hepatica and Trillium, have special seeds that have elaiosomes! These fleshy casings, full of oils and proteins, are attractive to some very important seed dispersers: Ants! The foraging workers collect the seeds with elaiosomes and relocate them to their nests. The ants then separate the elaiosomes from the seeds in order to feed themselves or their larvae. Once the elaiosomes have been eaten, the seeds are left behind, underground or outside of the nest, to grow into a new plant!

Keep an eye out for spring ephemerals in High Park!

Sammy Tangir - Sammy is a serious nature nerd and especially enthusiastic about plants! When she is not thinking of next week's nature word, she is working as an outdoor educator and practicing her wood carving skills.

Stay in the loop with the Nature Centre
Sign up to receive news and updates in our bi-weekly newsletter
Copyright 2021 - High Park Nature Centre