Is Seed Living Or Nonliving?

Humans have relied on seeds for food, fiber, and medicine for millennia. Despite its importance to human society and the natural world, there remains some ambiguity regarding the very nature of a seed: Is seed living or nonliving entity? This question has captivated scientists and laypeople alike for centuries. It requires understanding what constitutes life and how seeds fit into that definition. Here, we will explore the characteristics that define living organisms and examine whether seeds meet those criteria.

What Are Seeds?

Seeds are the miracle workers of the plant world. They contain all the genetic information needed to create a new plant and are essential for the reproduction of many types of plants. Seeds come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny grains to large pods. But no matter their appearance, they all have one thing in common: the potential to grow into something much bigger.

Is Seed Living Or Nonliving

When you hold a seed in your hand, it’s hard to believe it could ever become a towering tree or a bountiful garden. But inside that little shell is everything the plant needs to get started: nutrients, water, and, most importantly, genetic information. And when conditions are right, with enough sunlight, water, and soil, the seed will begin to sprout.

Seeds are small embryonic plants encased in a protective outer layer. They form part of the reproductive cycle of seed-bearing plants like flowers, fruits, and trees. Once matured, they can be dispersed by various methods such as wind, water, or animals which help them reach new locations where they can germinate and grow into new plants. Depending on their plant type, they come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Some seeds have tough shells that protect them from harsh environments, while others have soft coverings that facilitate easy germination.

What Are Seeds Made Of?

What exactly are seeds made of? Let us explore this. 

Is Seed Living Or Nonliving

Seeds consist of three primary parts:

  • Embryo
  • Endosperm
  • Seed coat

The Embryo is the young plant that will eventually sprout from the seed. It contains all the genetic material necessary for growth and development, including an embryonic root and shoot. The Endosperm is a nutrient-rich tissue that surrounds the embryo and provides it with energy during germination. Finally, the Seed Coat is a protective layer that shields the embryo from environmental stressors such as drought or temperature fluctuations. The composition of seeds can vary widely depending on species and environmental conditions.

Factors That Affect The Life Or Death Of Seeds

The longevity of these tiny packets of life varies depending on several factors that affect their ability to germinate. Seeds require specific conditions for successful sprouting, including water, oxygen, and appropriate temperatures. Other external factors may positively or negatively impact their survival.


Properly storing seeds is essential to maintain their quality and viability, ultimately affecting their germination rate. The factors that influence the longevity of seeds in storage include humidity, temperature, and light exposure. High humidity levels can lead to seed deterioration by promoting fungal growth, increasing seed moisture content, and accelerating seed aging. Seeds stored in low-humidity environments tend to have longer lifespans than those in high-humid conditions. 

Temperature influences chemical reactions within the seeds. Seeds stored at low temperatures have been shown to last for several years compared to those exposed to higher temperatures that deteriorate much more quickly. Light exposure affects seed viability since prolonged exposure can cause premature germination or loss of vitality. Ensuring optimal storage conditions while minimizing light exposure is key to preserving seed viability over the long term.

Exposure To Life

Several studies have shown that exposing seeds to various stressors during their early stages can significantly affect their chances of survival. For example, exposure to high temperatures or drought conditions can cause seeds to become dehydrated and lose vital nutrients required for germination. Excessive exposure to water can lead to fungal infections or mold growth, which may hinder seed growth.

How long can a seed survive?

Seeds can be divided into three categories according to their expected lifespan or longevity – short-lived, medium-lived, and long-lived.

Is Seed Living Or Nonliving

Short-lived seeds have a lifespan of only a few years and are typically used for immediate planting. They include species such as lettuce, spinach, and beans. Medium-lived seeds have a longer lifespan than short-lived seeds but still, perish within 5-10 years. Examples include corn, peas, and radish. Long-lived seeds can last for decades or even centuries without losing viability. These include many tree species such as oak, maple, and pine and some herbaceous species like lotus and lupine.

Legume Seeds

Recent studies have found that legume seeds can last much longer than we previously thought. Some legume seeds have life spans of up to seventy-five years and more.

One such example is the legume C. Multijuga, which has survived for over seventy-five years when stored under optimal conditions. Similarly, Cassia Bicapsularis seeds can remain viable for several decades if stored in a cool and dry environment. These findings are significant as they indicate that seed banks could store these valuable genetic resources for future generations. The longevity of legume seeds is due to their hard outer coating, which protects them from environmental factors such as heat and moisture that can cause them to deteriorate.

Seeds Of Nelumbo Nucifera

The Indian Lotus, scientifically known as Nelumbo Nucifera, are fascinating because they can survive during harsh conditions such as drought, freezing temperatures, or even without oxygen.

Studies have shown that the seeds of Nelumbo Nucifera can remain viable for up to 1300 years under certain conditions. Researchers have attributed this remarkable survival mechanism to the seed’s hard outer shell, the testa. The testa protects against environmental factors like water loss or nutrient deprivation while helping maintain seed viability over extended periods.

It has been observed that germination rates decrease with increasing age of seeds. While some seeds may still germinate after more than a thousand years of dormancy, their success rate may be lower than freshly harvested ones.

How to Check the Viability of Seeds

The viability of seeds refers to their potential to germinate and produce a healthy plant. If you want fruitful results from your planting efforts, checking the seed viability before sowing them in the soil is crucial.


Observation is a must if you want to determine the viability of seeds. Before planting, it is necessary to ensure the seed is viable to produce healthy plants. You can also observe for physical characteristics.

Physical observation can provide insight into whether or not a seed is viable by checking its color, size, weight, and texture. The physical condition of the seed coat can also be an indicator of viability. A healthy and fully developed seed coat suggests that a seed has good potential for growth as it protects against environmental stressors such as disease or pests.

Germination Test

A simple germination test is an easy and effective way to check the viability of seeds. This method involves placing small seeds in a moist environment, such as damp paper towels, and monitoring their growth over a few days to see if they sprout. The germination rate can indicate how many viable seeds are in a batch and help gardeners plan accordingly. To perform this test, follow the steps:

  • Place several seeds between damp layers of paper towels, seal them in a plastic bag, and keep them in a warm location. 
  • Within several days, the seeds should begin to sprout roots or shoots. 
  • Count the number of successful germinations to determine the overall viability of the seed batch. 
  • A high germination rate suggests that most or all seeds will grow successfully when planted.

Water Test

This method entails soaking the seeds in water overnight and examining them the next day. Viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the container, while empty or non-viable ones will float on top. Another technique is called a cut test, in which you carefully slice open the seed and check for any signs of life, such as an embryo or white shoot. You can also use temperature-controlled environments like an incubator that helps maintain consistent temperatures between 68°F-70°F (20°C-21°C).

Use Tetrazolium Chloride Solution

Tetrazolium chloride solution is a powerful tool for checking the viability of seeds. This chemical compound is widely used in seed biology and agriculture to assess the germination potential of different plant species. By applying tetrazolium chloride solution to seeds, researchers can quickly identify viable and non-viable samples, which helps them determine the optimal conditions for seed storage, planting, and propagation.

The principle of using tetrazolium chloride solution is based on its interaction with living tissues in seeds. When applied to a seed sample, this reagent penetrates the cell membranes and reacts with dehydrogenase enzymes in metabolically active cells. The reaction produces a red or purple coloration that indicates the presence of live tissue in the seed. By contrast, dead or damaged tissues do not react with tetrazolium chloride and remain colorless.

Is Seed Living Or Nonliving

At The End

Seeds are a great part of nature. Is Seed Living Or Nonliving? While they may remain dormant for long periods, the potential for growth and development is inherently present within them. Scientifically speaking, seeds exhibit many characteristics of living organisms, such as the ability to reproduce and respond to stimuli. Yet, they lack certain qualities, such as metabolism and mobility, typically associated with life. 

The debate over whether seeds are living or nonliving is ongoing and multifaceted, but one thing is certain: seeds hold immense importance in sustaining life on our planet. It is up to us to continue exploring the intricacies of these complex structures to gain a deeper understanding of their role in our world.


Are Seeds Unicellular in Nature?

Yes, seeds are unicellular. Each seed is a single entity with its genetic material. It is composed of several individual cells, which are responsible for the plant’s growth and development.

How is seed a living thing?

Seeds are living things because they have a nucleus and DNA. The nucleus is a small, hard object at the center of the seed. It’s made up of chromosomes, which are tiny pieces of DNA. DNA is the genetic code that tells the seed how to grow into a plant.

Can seeds survive?

Seeds can survive for a very long time if they are stored properly. Once planted, the seeds need water and sunlight.

Are seeds alive in the packet?

Yes, the seeds are alive and active when you open the packet. The seeds will start germinating and growing when you plant them.

Can a dead seed grow?

Yes, a dead seed can grow. It is unlikely that a seed will germinate from a dead one. Several factors must be present for a seed to germinate, including water, warmth, and light.

What is a dead seed?

A dead seed is a seed that has stopped growing and producing new plants. Several factors, including poor soil quality, a lack of water, or an infestation of pests can cause dead seeds.

Iram Khan