Anatomy of a Flower

Get out your notebooks – it’s time for a lesson in flower anatomy! Most of us know about petals and stems, but for you with curious minds, here’s a more thorough rundown of what makes a flower a flower. 

Petal

Petals are what give a flower its unique shape, and are often brightly colored to attract insects and critters, which unwittingly aid in the fertilization of ovules through pollination.

Sepal

These are the small, leaf-like parts growing at the base of the petals. They serve to protect the flower before it blossoms.

Peduncle

This refers to the stem or stalk of a flower.

Receptacle

This is the thickened part at the bottom of the flower which holds its major organs.

Pistil

This is the female organ of the flower. It consists of four major parts:

  1. Stigma – The head of the pistil. The stigma receives pollen, which will begin the process of fertilization.
  2. Style – This is the name for the stalk of the pistil. When pollen reaches the stigma, it begins to grow a tube through the style called a pollen tube, which will eventually reach the ovary. The style therefore acts as a buffer against pollen contamination, since only compatible pollen is able to grow a pollen tube.
  3. Ovary – The base of the pistil. This organ holds the ovules awaiting fertilization.
  4. Ovules – These are the flower’s eggs, located inside the ovary. Upon fertilization by pollen, they will eventually grow into a seed. In fruit plants, pollen will not only spark the growth of a seed, but a surrounding fruit as well.

Stamen

This is the male organ of the flower, consisting of two major parts:

  1. Anther – The head of the stamen. The anther is responsible for the production of pollen, which will hopefully be transported to the pistil by animals or insects, such as bees. This is a crucial part of the reproduction of the plant.
  2. Filament – This is the stalk that holds the anther and attaches it to the flower.

Making More Flowers

It’s amazing for nature to provide a flower with the ability to reproduce without the need for a mate, but not all of them do!

Some flowers have only male or female organs, and require a separate flower of the opposite gender to reproduce. We call these Imperfect Flowers. Perfect Flowers, on the other hand, have both a stamen and a pistil, and are able to reproduce on their own.