In botany, a diaspore is a plant dispersal unit consisting of a seed or spore plus any additional tissues that assist dispersal. In some seed plants, the diaspore is a seed and fruit together, or a seed and elaiosome. In a few seed plants, the diaspore is most or all of the plant, and is known as a tumbleweed.
A diaspore of seed plus elaiosome is a common adaptation to seed dispersal by ants (myrmecochory). This is most notable in Australian and South African sclerophyll plant communities. Typically, ants carry the diaspore to their nest, where they may eat the elaiosome and discard the seed, and the seed may subsequently germinate.
A diaspore of seed(s) plus fruit is common in plants dispersed by frugivores. Fruit-eating bats typically carry the diaspore to a favorite perch, where they eat the fruit and discard the seed. Fruit-eating birds typically swallow small seeds but, like bats, may carry larger seeded fruits to a perch where they eat the fruit and discard the seed. Diaspores such as achenes and samarae are dispersed primarily by wind; samaras are dispersed also by sailing or tumbling as they fall in still air. Drift fruits and some others are dispersed by water.
Seed dispersal is the movement or transport of seeds away from the parent plant. Plants have limited mobility and consequently rely upon a variety of dispersal vectors to transport their propagules, including both abiotic and biotic vectors. Seeds can be dispersed away from the parent plant individually or collectively, as well as dispersed in both space and time. The patterns of seed dispersal are determined in large part by the dispersal mechanism and this has important implications for the demographic and genetic structure of plant populations, as well as migration patterns and species interactions. There are five main modes of seed dispersal: gravity, wind, ballistic, water and by animals. Some plants are serotinous and only disperse their seeds in response to an environmental stimulus. It can be measured using seed traps.