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April 18, 2011

Why Do Flowers Need Pollen?

Plants with flowers need pollination to create new seeds that will grow into new plants. The flower of a plant is usually where reproduction occurs, so without pollination a flower cannot reproduce. Of the 300,000 plant species on this planet that produce pollen, each type makes pollen unique only to that plant, according to National Geographic. Stamen

The stamen is the male part of a flower — the reproductive organ that produces the sticky powder known as pollen. The stamen is made up of a filament that holds the anther. The filament is a thin stalk. An anther sits on the tip of each filament and contains the pollen, which is the plant’s male reproductive cell. Pollen fertilizes the ovules or female reproductive cells of the plant. Fertilization results in the formation of seeds. Pistil

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The pistil is the female part of a flower, consisting of the stigma, style, ovary and ovule. The stigma is the part of the flower that receives the pollen during fertilization. It sits on top of the pistil and is sticky in order to catch the pollen. The style is a tube that extends out the top of the ovary. This tube transports the reproductive cells in pollen from the stigma to the ovules. The ovary is the female reproductive organ of the plant that holds the ovules, which are the female reproductive cells located in the base of the pistil. An ovule is a tiny egg that becomes the seed once it has been fertilized with pollen. The Process of Pollination

For pollination to occur, pollen must be transferred from the plant’s stamen to its stigma. This process is referred to as self-pollination. If pollen from one plant’s stamen is transferred to the stigma of a different plant of the same species, cross-pollination occurs. Cross-pollination is better than self-pollination because it produces stronger plants. However, the pollen from a different species plant will not work. Once ovules in a plant are fertilized with pollen, the ovules develop into fruit. The fruit covers the seeds, which eventually become new plants. Pollinators

Plants get pollinated in several different ways. The most common method of pollination takes place when birds or insects such as bees, flies, moths or butterflies try to get pollen or nectar from the plant. Flowers that are brightly colored or have a strong fragrance attract hummingbirds and insects as pollinators, although beetles and bats can spread pollen as well. When a pollinator lands on a plant, pollen from the plant’s stamen can get on its legs or body, so that when the bird or insect moves on to another flower, it carries pollen grains to that plant’s stigma.