These berries are obviously very attractive to birds. As I write I am looking out of the window and watching some Wood-pigeons rather inelegantly gorging themselves on them. Blackbirds are also frequent customers of this tree. All the exuberant bird antics tend to result in three berries falling to the ground for every one that is eaten! (You just try swallowing an apple whole without using your hands, whilst balancing on a narrow pole 20 feet up, and without being able to hold on...). This is probably Nature's way of "sowing" the seeds.
Each one of these berries has the potential to become another tree -- but it's a very small chance. In my garden they will not be allowed to grow, and I will dig up any that germinate, but maybe some of the seeds eaten by the pigeons, blackbirds etc will emerge in due course in the birds' droppings and fall somewhere that is not under the supervision of a gardener and therefore have a greater chance of success.
All this has got me thinking about why some plants produce huge numbers of seeds whilst others produce very few. Compare Avocado with Chilli (in the seed numbers sense I mean). Why is it that some are so much more efficient than others? And then why, come to think of it, do some plants choose to propagate themselves by sending out runners instead of relying on seeds? What is the most unusual method of propagation you know?
Have you heard of the "Egyptian Walking Onion"? Another name for it is the Tree_onion It doesn't literally walk, but it produces a clutch of bulblets at the end of each of its long leaves. These leaves get top-heavy and fall over, allowing the bulblets to touch the ground and take root, distant from the parent plant by the length of the leaf. In this way the onion patch gets bigger each year if left alone. Clever!
What about the Himalayan Balsam plant? Himalayan_Balsam Its ripe seeds are catapulted my means of a sort of spring mechanism, often travelliing up to 7 metres from the parent plant! If you have ever had one in your garden (NOT recommended because they are very invasive) you have probably heard them "firing off"; they make a loud clicking sound when they fire.
How about the Pohutukawa ("New Zealand Christmas tree")? Metrosideros_excelsa This incredibly robust and tenacious tree starts off very small, and will grow even in the tiny folds and crevices of volcanic lava rock, which tend to collect moisture and dust which eventually creates a sort of soil. As the tree grows, the dense foliage in the umbrella-like shape of the tree creates shade for its own roots, and the tangled root system itself creates more nooks and crannies for capturing water and airborne soil and dust particles, so that the cycle can be repeated. Viewed from above, a Pohutukawa grove would appear like a series of circles with the big trees in the middle and little ones on the outside. I remember seeing this clearly demonstrated on Rangitoto island just off Auckland, a very young volcanic island.
I'd be interested to hear from my readers about any plants they have with unusual propagation methods.