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What Every Seed Knows

A friend's father, who possessed a kind of countrified Steven-Wright humor, once remarked on the ability of a thermos bottle to keep hot things hot and cold things cold. "How does it know?", he asked. My friend's father was joking, of course, but I have another question that is far more interesting (if not as funny): how do seeds know when to start growing?

As a standup comedian might say, think about it. If a temperate zone plant produces seeds in late fall, and they germinate right a...

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