Difference Between Spores and Seeds

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Difference Between Spores and Seeds

In order to understand clearly the difference between spores and seeds, it is imperative to begin by explaining the meaning of each term.  A spore is a reproductive cell that is capable of developing into a new plant without sexual fusion with other reproductive cells. On the other hand, a seed is an ovule from a plant that has ripened and is capable of developing into new plants. Ovules develop as a result of flowering process that takes place in plants and is caused by fusion of two reproductive cells.

Thus, the main difference between the two is that a spore is asexual; it can develop into a new plant without sexual fusion with other reproductive cells while a seed is a result of flowering. Apparently, this process is a result of sexual fusion of different productive cells usually male and female cells of a given plant and is known as pollination and this can be either through self or cross pollination.

Key features of a spore

There are different features of spores as outlined below:

  • Spores are that they are produced by non-flowering plants, bacteria, fungi and algae. This means that there is no fusion of different reproductive cells in their formation.
  • A spore is minute and requires the aid of a magnifying apparatus in order to scrutinize it. In other words, it may be difficult or impossible to identify a spore with a naked eye hence the need to use a device like a microscope.
  • Spores are located underneath the leaf and simply fall away and they are either blown by the wind to other areas where they can develop into new plants.

On the other hand, seeds are also characterized by certain key features that make them distinct from spores as illustrated below:

Key Features of a seed

  • It is usually covered in a seed coat for protection against harsh weather elements. This protective shield also helps the seed to stay in perfect condition over a long period and can still germinate at an appropriate time.
  • A seed is typically an embryo that is comprised of two parts, one develops into the stem and the other develops into the roots when germination or growth of a new plant takes place. As noted above, a spore is comprised of a single cell.
  • A seed is also capable of storing food in its coat and this facilitates growth of the new plant. When a new plant grows, it requires food on its own to develop roots which will help it to source nutrients from the soil. The food in the seed also facilitates the development of leaves which also aid vital processes like photosynthesis.
  • When the seed has been formed, this stage signals the end of the reproduction process. The mother plant usually dies when the ripened ovule has been fully developed and in some cases, it naturally detaches from the plant and spreads to the other areas.
  • The seed is usually found in the fruit which is the edible offspring of a certain plant. As noted, the seed is protected in a hard coat and this is not consumable so it is usually thrown away after eating the fruit. Whenever conditions allow, germination of this seed can take place and new plants are developed.
  • The other key feature is that a seed is produced by a flowering plant. Flowering takes place when two reproduction cells have been fused through the process known as pollination.

Location of seeds and spores on plants

On every flowering plant, seeds have a specific place where they are located and can be easily identified. The seeds are usually found in the flowers or inside the fruits that are produced by flowering plants. A fruit is the edible offspring produced by the plant and inside it are seeds or in some cases, it can only bear a single seed. The hard protective coat of a seed cannot be digested and if swallowed, it is excreted somewhere where it can grow into a new plant.

On the other hand, spores are usually located underneath the leaves. Unlike seeds, spores are dispersed from their mother plant through different methods. They simply fall to the ground or in some cases, they are blown away by the wind. Usually, spores are not dispersed to distant locations from their mother plants like seeds which can be carried to distant locations by the animals in particular. When the conditions permit, the spores can develop into new plants from the new location where they would have been dispersed to. 


The other notable aspect that makes spores different from seeds is that they require different environment conditions in order for them to geminate into new plants. Spores require wet environments like swampy areas in order for them to germinate. When the climatic conditions are not wet enough, they may not be able to germinate. On the other hand, seeds require less water in order for them to germinate. The temperature should also be high enough to facilitate fast growth so that the plants can begin to flower and produce other off-springs. This is more like a vicious cycle given that the process is continuous and it is supported by different environmental conditions favorable to growth of each component.

Adaption to the environment by spores and plants

After the spores and seeds have been detached from their parent plants, they are exposed to new environments of which they are supposed to adapt to while waiting for the appropriate time in order for them to germinate. As noted, seeds are protected by hard coats and this makes them durable to sustain harsh climatic conditions. For instance, seeds can survive in good state over a long period of time in environments that are characterized by high temperatures. When the wet season arrives, the seeds can still germinate after withstanding harsh climatic conditions.

Spores on the other hand are susceptible to harsh climatic conditions like high temperatures. They cannot survive in environments that are characterized by prolonged dry conditions since they are more suitable to wet environments. In areas that are often characterized by dry conditions like deserts, the spores cannot be able to survive unlike seeds which have been tried and tested in such natural conditions.

Nature of complexity between seeds and spores

By virtue of having a single reproductive cell only, it can be observed that a spore is not much complicated compared to a seed. Seeds are multi-cellular and this makes them more complex since they require appropriate conditions in order for them to develop into new plants. A seed is comprised of an outer cover, embryo and endosperm and these are very important in preparing it for the outside environment where they will be expected to germinate into new plants. The outer cover provides the necessary defense mechanism such that the seed can withstand harsh climatic conditions until the appropriate time for them to germinate comes. The endosperm provides the nourishment required by the seed when it is time for it to germinate into a new plant. Comparatively, a spore is simple in structure only comprising of an outer cell cover and a single cell inside.

Tabular Summary of differences between spores and seeds

Component Spore Seed
Size Very small Large
Mode of production Produced by non flowering plants and fungi Products of flowering plants
Location Located below the leaves Located in flowers
Dissemination Spores fall away from leaves and blown by wind Consumed by animals and excreted somewhere
Production quantity Produced in large numbers Produced in small numbers
Survival Spores cannot survive in harsh environment Seeds can survive in harsh environment
Food storage Spores do not store food Seeds store food
Germination Spores require more water for germination Seeds require less water for germination


Over and above, it can be observed that both spores and seeds belong to the plant category but they exhibit different features. The major difference noted between the two is that spores are asexual while seeds are sexual reproduction organisms. Seeds are comprised of multiple cells that facilitate reproduction of new plants while spores are comprised of a single cell only. The other issue is that a seed is comprised of different layers such as the outer cover which protects it, endosperm and the embryo. The endosperm is responsible for storing food that is required for embryo development.

The spores have a hard cell wall but they do not have the other components that are found in the seed. This brings us to the conclusion that seeds are more complex than spores. All the same, seeds are capable of surviving harsh climatic conditions like high temperatures despite their complexity. On top of that, seeds do not require large quantities of water in order for them to germinate unlike spores which do well in very wet conditions.

Author: Trevor Mark

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