Flowers and Reproduction
Flowers are the reproductive structures of flowering plants. Once the pollen has been transferred from one flower to another flower, fertilization takes place. The female parts of the fertilized flower then develop into fruits and seeds which are dispersed away from the parent plant. Later, when conditions are
suitable, these seeds may germinate and grow into plants bearing flowers. In this way the cycle is continued.
Johnny's Fact File No.30
The tallest flowering plant is the
eucalyptus which can reach 132m in height.
The smallest flowering plant is the duckweed
which floats on the surface of pond water. It is 0,5mm long.
Many plants produce flowers. When the flowers are young (in bud) some are protected by leaf-like structures called sepals. As the flower develops it opens and the sepals fold back or fall off, showing the petals. Some plants have colourful and sweet-smelling flowers, while others have flowers which are small, have no scent and are not easy to see.
Flowers are the reproductive structures of plants. Most flowers are hermaphrodite, this means that they have both male and female parts. The male parts are called stamens and it is in the anthers of the stamens that the pollen is made. The female parts of the flower are called carpels and it is in the carpels that the eggs (ovules) are made. The main problem for the plant is how to get the pollen, which contains the male
sex cell, to the carpel of another flower. The brightly coloured flowers use certain types of animals to transfer their pollen. Some flowers depend on the wind to take the pollen from one flower to another flower. These flowers are less conspicuous (less easy to see).
Johnny's Fact File No.31
The largest flower is the
stinking corpse lily which can be up to 90 centimetres in diameter.
The smallest flowers are found on the
artillery plant. They are
only 0,35 millimetres in diameter.
Most of the animals which transfer pollen from flower to flower are insects. These flowers are called insect-pollinated flowers. The insects are attracted by the colour and scent of the flowers. The flowers provide food for the insects which visit them. At the bottom of the petals there are sacks which contain a sugary substance called nectar.
Johnny's Fact File No.32
Flowers are sometimes useful to us for other reasons than just for decoration. A few flowers are important foods;
broccoli, cauliflower and
artichoke are collections of flower buds which we eat as vegetables. Many flowers are used to add taste to food.
Cloves are dried flower buds and saffron comes from the female parts of the
purple autumn crocus.
In some countries the petals of
marigolds are used to flavour food such as soups and salads.
flowers are used to make wine. In China, fried
squash flowers are considered to be a luxury food!
Honey is made from nectar. The best nectar for making honey comes from
clover, orange and
Some flower petals are used to make expensive perfumes, such as
rose. The petals of
some brightly coloured flowers are used to make coloured dyes for clothes.