Botany: Patience with Peas

Archaeological folklore is enhanced by fanciful yarns about an ancient Pharaoh's tomb containing dried seeds that sprouted when planted and watered—thousands of years after they were first interred. The truth of the tale has yet to be proved, but common chickweed seeds have germinated after lying dormant for more than three decades; Oriental lotus seeds, after about 1,000 years. Such long survival, despite heat, cold or even radiation, is managed by the seed when it enters anabiosis —a state of suspended animation in which its metabolism stops, its skin hardens and thickens, and its water content falls to about 10%...

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