A seed is an embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer covering. The formation of the seed is part of the process of reproduction in seed plants, the spermatophytes, including the gymnosperm and angiosperm plants.
Seeds are the product of the ripened ovule, after fertilization by pollen and some growth within the mother plant. The embryo develops from the zygote, and the seed coat from the integuments of the ovule.
Seeds have been an important development in the reproduction and success of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants, relative to more primitive plants such as ferns, mosses and liverworts, which do not have seeds and use water-dependent means to propagate themselves. Seed plants now dominate 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.
In the angiosperms, the ovary ripens to a fruit which contains the seed and serves to disseminate it.