Background photo - Junipers in the gardens of Le Corbusier's celebrated "L'Unite" building, Marseille, France 2008
April 2011 - Chestnut
The well-known 'conker', the seed of the chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) is packed with all the energy, information, parts and chemicals to get one of these literally off the ground to become a full-grown tree. The one in the photograph was found growing underneath a slide in a play park and was unfortunately going nowhere. It has since been put in a pot and given a good feed and is getting lots of sunlight. It should do OK.
On germination, the seed uses the energy reserves in the conker to put a shoot (known as the 'plumule') with the first couple of leaves up into the air and a root (known as the 'radicle') down into the ground. This picture captures the result of those first couple of weeks of germination and growth. After that the tree needs to get additinal nutrients and water from the soil and to get energy from the sun to fuel further growth.