Seeds: Definition & Types

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  • 0:03 What Are Seeds?
  • 1:00 Dicots
  • 2:11 Monocots
  • 3:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lauren Posey

Lauren has taught intermediate reading in an English Language Institute, and she has her Master's degree in Linguistics.

The vast majority of plants reproduce using seeds. In this lesson, you'll learn about the major categories of seeds and look at some examples of each type.

What Are Seeds?

The next time you're outside, take a look around. How many different kinds of plants do you see? Chances are, most of them reproduce using seeds. Seeds are the method of reproduction for flowering plants, including everything from trees to grasses to bushes. Each seed is capable of growing into a new plant, given the right conditions, and the vast majority of plants have seeds.

There are two overarching categories of seeds: dicotyledonous and monocotyledonous. Seeds are placed into these categories based on how many embryonic leaves they have. Embryonic leaves are the leaves inside the unsprouted seed. Within these categories seeds can be albuminous or exalbuminous, depending on the method of food storage the seed uses. Overall, that makes four major categories of seeds.


Dicotyledonous seeds, or dicots for short, are named for their two embryonic leaves. Di means two, and cotyledons are another name for seed leaves. When dicot seeds initially sprout, two leaves come out and spread open like a book.

Albuminous Dicots

Within the dicot category, some seeds are albuminous. Albuminous seeds have food storage areas known as endosperms, that continue to exist and feed the plant as it grows into maturity. Albuminous seeds are often round with a hard shell. Inside the shell is the endosperm, and inside the endosperm is the embryo. Some examples of albuminous dicots include the castor bean, cotton, and coffee.

Exalbuminous Dicots

In contrast with albuminous seeds, exalbuminous seeds do not contain an endosperm, and their initial food storage does not continue into maturity. In this type of seed, food for the first few days of the seedling's life is stored directly on the cotyledons. There is no external food storage area. Some examples of exalbuminous dicots include the common pea and mangoes.


Monocotyledonous seeds, or monocots, have only one seed leaf. These include plants like grasses and many ground flowering plants. When the seed sprouts, only one leaf emerges.

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