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Section 2
Structure and Formation of A Seed

Don’t they see how We drive water to barren land and bring forth crops by it which their livestock and they themselves both eat? So will they not see? (Qur’an, 32:27)

çiçek, şema

This diagram shows the phases from the flowering of a plant to seed formation. Any intelligent person can see that such a process cannot be the result of coincidence. (Ozet Arpaci, Biyoloji 3 (Biology 3), p. 17.)

All the different plants – from trees that are meters in height, to the flowers whose fragrance you delight in and the vegetables and fruit you eat – all of them began as seeds. But what stages have these seeds undergone in their formation?

In the development of the seed, the first stage is the transport of the pollen, or male reproductive cells, of flower-bearing plants. Pollen is transported by the wind, insects, animals or some other means to flowers’ reproductive organs.

Right in the center of a flower is one or a cluster of female organs, called the carpel. Each carpel consists of a tip called a stigma, carried on a stalk called a style. At its base is a swollen ovary containing the ovules that will develop into seeds.

Pollen from the male organs is deposited on the stigma, which is coated in a sticky substance, and produces a pollen tube that reaches down the style to the ovary. This sticky surface has the very important function, for if the pollen does not reach the ovary, it cannot fertilize the ovules. The sticky surface of the stigma catches pollen and prevents it from being dispersed and wasted. 

Once the grain of pollen, or male reproductive cell, lands on the stigma of a flower from the same species, the pollen produces a tube like a fine root growing down the neck of the style to the ovary. Each of the mature pollen grains contains two sperm cells. The pollen tube transports the sperm to the ovule. One sperm cell fertilizes the egg in the embryo sac of the ovule, resulting in the development of a seed. The other sperm cell unites with two cells in the embryo sac, creating the tissue that surrounds the embryo and provides nourishment for it. Shortly after this process, called fertilization, a seed is produced.

Every seed contains a plant embryo and a store of nutrients. In this embryo is contained all the information relating to the future plant, as we explained at the start. That is to say, the embryo contains a small copy of the plant; and the store of nutrients enables this embryo to grow until the plant can produce its nourishment.

değişik tohum tipleri
These sketches of different varieties of seeds show how the shapes of the nutrient reserve and the embryo differ in each one. (Grains de Vie, p. 18.)

Characteristics of the Nutrient Reserve in Seeds

tohumlar

God uses seeds as a multi-faceted form of provision for humans.

Seeds like the ones shown in the illustration (barley, pistachio, walnut, rice, hazelnut, chestnut) are extremely nutritious.

The pea, one of the seeds that store sugar.

It is of great importance for the seed to contain a reserve of nutrients for the embryo, since at this early stage, a plant has as yet no leaves for photosynthesis and no roots to draw nutrients from the soil. Until it emerges as a seedling, it must use whatever nutrients already contained within it to complete its development.

At this point we encounter the miraculous detail that stored in every seed is just the right amount of nutrient to satisfy its needs. The nutrient content of seeds that must remain dormant for a long time before germinating (for example, the coconut) and of seeds that germinate soon after coming into contact with water (such as melon and watermelon) is regulated in different amounts. What’s more, the kind of nutrients stored – principally starch and storage proteins, and sometimes additionally sugar and fat – depends on the variety of the plant. Of these, starch is the most essential, as it is the main source of energy for the embryo. Storage proteins, on the other hand, will provide the amino acids the embryo requires to build other proteins important for its growth.3

Who regulates the amount and kind of nutrients? It cannot be the seed, because this calibration is done before the seed is formed. Then does the parent plant regulate the amount of nutrients, by determining the seed’s stages of development and the length of time before it germinates? To admit such a possibility would mean a series of unreasonable events that are hard to believe, such as the plant having intelligence and consciousness, foresight and knowledge of events taking place beyond its own sphere. No logical, intelligent person can believe such a thing.

The evident truth is that the One Who stores in the seed of every plant exactly the right amount of nutrients it requires, the Creator of all plants and their systems and stages of fertilization is God.

The Importance of the Nutrients in Seeds

kuru dut, zeytin, yer fıstığı
These seeds have many uses, because of the oil stored within them.

Our lives are linked, directly or indirectly, to the existence of seeds.

After fertilization while the seed is forming, sugar and fat are stored in the seed together with starch and storage proteins, depending on the plant species. Starch provides the seed with its main energy supply. The storage proteins will produce the amino acids the embryo needs to build other proteins that are important for the plant. But for the embryo to absorb and transport the proteins and starch, which are largely insoluble in water, they must be broken down chemically into small water-soluble units,4  and as you will see later in the book, the seed is created with a system to solve this problem.

The existence of a store of nutrients is important not only for plants, which need it for their seeds to develop, but also for humans and animals. Nutrients in seeds like wheat, corn, rice, barley, rye, oats, millet, buckwheat, legumes (peas, beans, soybeans, black-eyed peas, peanuts) and nuts with shells (such as Brazil nuts, coconuts, walnuts, almonds) are important for both humans and animals.

Usually, seeds contain comparatively less sugar than the other substances, though sweet corn, chestnuts, almonds, pistachios and peas store a relatively high proportion of sugar.

The amount of fat in oily seeds increases rapidly as the seeds ripen. Some of the most important oils are obtained from flax, tung, cotton, soybean, olive, peanut, castor bean, coconut, sesame and oil palm. As well as being used in food, these oils are used in making paints and varnishes, linoleum, printers ink, soap, artificial leather, and insulating materials.5

As these examples show, seeds have direct or indirect connections with people’s lives and health, including dietary fibers, spices, beverages, edible and industrial oils, vitamins and medicaments.

The Minerals and Vitamins in Seeds

bal kabağı
Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin E.

The majority of dry seeds are extremely high in nutritional value. For example, sesame, and sunflower seeds contain a higher proportion of protein than grains. Pumpkin seeds contain more than 30% protein. More than half of the weight of these seeds, which are high in vitamin E, is fat. More than 80% of these fats are polyunsaturated fats – the kind that prevent hardening of our arteries, essential fatty acids, and the oil-soluble vitamins A, D and E. Vitamin B is also found in seeds, but the quantity varies according to the species.6

In addition, seeds are rich in minerals, containing a lot of iron and zinc. The amount of magnesium is good, particularly in pumpkin seeds. Many seeds are a source of copper. Seeds also have fairly high levels of calcium, potassium and phosphorus, and a small amount of sodium; and the majority of seeds contain iodine.

Pumpkin seeds have a high concentration of zinc, and for this reason are used in the treatment of various illnesses. In addition, they’re quite rich in iron, calcium and phosphorus, as well as containing vitamin E and essential fatty acids. They also contain a combination of B vitamins, particularly niacin.

tahıllı ekmek çeşitleri
Many minerals and vitamins are contained in seeds, which God has created as a blessing, an essential food for humans and all living creatures.

Sesame seeds are probably the most widely used seeds in the world. They are rich in oil, over 55%. They are about 20% protein, and contain some of the A and E vitamins, as well as most of the B vitamins apart from B12 and folic acid. As is the case with most seeds, sesame seeds have a high mineral content, with large quantities of calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and iron. They’re a wonderful source of calcium. Whether due to the vitamin E they contain or other factors, sesame seeds also have a mild antioxidant effect.7

Raw sunflower seeds have higher nutritional value than roasted or salted seeds. For those with blood-pressure problems, sunflower seeds are high in potassium and low in sodium – a balance needed by most people. They have a high oil content as polyunsaturated fats and, thanks to the essential linoleic acid and vitamin E they contain, are effective in reducing cholesterol levels and improving or preventing cardiovascular diseases. Sunflower seeds are composed of about 25% protein, and are rich in fiber and vitamin B, high in potassium, low in sodium and contain different proportions of zinc, iron and calcium – a very mineral-rich nutritional source. They have quite high levels of copper, manganese and phosphorus, and also contain magnesium.8

These few examples show how God has used seeds as a means of providing for people in many ways, one of His blessings for which thanks should be given:

So eat from what God has provided for you, lawful and good, and be thankful for the blessing of God if it is Him you worship. (Qur’an, 16:114)

ayçiçeği_tohum
The shells of sunflower seeds have a hard, dry texture. For this reason, the seeds cannot crack their shells when they are ripe. This is necessary for the highly nutritious seed to be saved within the shell.
1-Stigma
2-Anther
3-Filament
4-7 Ovary
5-8 Ovule
6- Seed coat
9- Embryo

 

Footnotes

3- 3 Malcolm Wilkins, Plantwatching, New York, Fact on File Publications, 1988, p. 48.

4 Ibid.

5 Wilfred W. Robbins, T. Elliot Weier, C. Ralph Stocking, Botany, An Introduction to Plant Science, John Wiley&Sons, INC., USA: May 1967, p. 270.

6 “Seeds,” Elson M. Haas, Health World Online; http://www.healthy.net/asp/templates/book.asp?PageType=Book&ID=343

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

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