Dehiscence is the splitting at maturity along a built-in line of weakness in a plant structure in order to release its contents, and is common among fruits, anthers and sporangia. Sometimes this involves the complete detachment of a part. Structures that open in this way are said to be dehiscent. Structures that do not open in this way are called indehiscent, and rely on other mechanisms such as decay or predation to release the contents.
A similar process to dehiscence occurs in some flower buds (e.g., Platycodon, Fuchsia), but this is rarely referred to as dehiscence unless circumscissile dehiscence is involved; anthesis is the usual term for the opening of flowers. Dehiscence may or may not involve the loss of a structure through the process of abscission. The lost structures are said to be caducous.
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant. The formation of the seed completes the process of reproduction in seed plants (started with the development of flowers and pollination), with the embryo developed from the zygote and the seed coat from the integuments of the ovule. All seeds are different size, shape and colour.
Seeds have been an important development in the reproduction and spread of flowering plants, relative to more primitive plants such as mosses, ferns and liverworts, which do not have seeds and use other means to propagate themselves. This can be seen by the success of seed plants (both gymnosperms and angiosperms) in dominating biological niches on land, from forests to grasslands both in hot and cold climates.
The term "seed" also has a general meaning that antedates the above—anything that can be sown, e.g. "seed" potatoes, "seeds" of corn or sunflower "seeds". In the case of sunflower and corn "seeds", what is sown is the seed enclosed in a shell or husk, whereas the potato is a tuber.