Definition - What does Open-Pollinated Seed mean?
Open-pollinated seeds are seeds from a plant that reproduce through open pollination. This means that the plant must rely on things like insects or the wind to pollinate its flowers and reproduce.
Open-pollinated plants are the opposite of self-pollinated plants, which require no external agent to pollinate them and will automatically flower and fruit on their own. Open-pollinated seeds result in greater diversity because pollination can occur involving multiple other plants, rather than just the parent plant, which is what happens with self-pollinated plants.
MaximumYield explains Open-Pollinated Seed
Plants reproduce in a number of different ways. Open-pollinated seeds are seeds from a plant that reproduces through what is known as open pollination. This is what most of us think of when we imagine flowers being pollinated. A good example would be a vegetable plant pollinated by bees. As the bee moves from flower to flower, it mixes pollen from one flower into the others, thereby pollinating them and ensuring that they will fruit.
Open-pollinated seeds require an external force to pollinate them. In most instances, this is accomplished by insects, but there are other ways it can occur. Some plants are wind pollinated, while others are pollinated by the gardener or farmer.
It’s also important to note that open-pollinated seeds will breed “true”. That is, a seed from one plant will reproduce the same type of plant. This is in direct contrast to hybrids, which, if they seed at all and are not sterile, will not breed true. Seeds from a hybrid plant will produce one of the two parent plants used to create the hybrid in the first place.
Most heirloom plants are open pollinated, but some are self pollinated. However, open pollinated plants are not automatically heirloom plants.