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Flower

The reproductive part of the plant is called the flower. Flowers are considered embryological and morphological marvels by most biologists.

The various parts of a flower my categorized into two classes - Vegetative and reproductive.
1. Vegetative parts: The vegetative parts of the flower are the ones that do not participate in the reproduction process. However, they perform other functions, such as attracting pollinating agents and protecting the buds.
Sepals and Petals are the vegetative parts of a flower.

2. Reproductive parts: The reproductive parts of the flower are the ones that participate in sexual reproduction, thereby leading to fruit formation.

Stamen is the male reproductive organ, whereas the pistil is the female reproductive organ.

Sepals

Sepals are the outermost parts of the flower. They are small, green in colour, and are found below the buds. The primary function of sepals is to protect the rising bud. Sepals may be fused or separate.

Petals

Petals are the most colourful parts of the flower. Petals occur in different colours ranging from dark blue & black to pale white. The primary function of petals is to attracting pollinating agents such as insects, honey bees, and birds.

Stamen

Stamen is the male reproductive part of the flower. The stamen is otherwise called androecium. A typical stamen consists of two parts - anther and filament.

The anther is generally a bilobed structure present at the terminal end of a flower. Each lobe of the anther consists of two thecae, i.e. dithecous. This tetragonal anther consists of 4 microsporangia, which further develop into pollen grains. The filament is a long, thin, and slender stalk whose proximal end is attached to petals or thallus. The length and number of stamens present in flowers differ from one species to another.

Pistil

The pistil is the female reproductive part of the flower. It is otherwise called gynoecium. A typical pistil consists of three parts - stigma, style, and ovary.

Stigma is the recipient of pollen grains. Style is a long, thin, and slender part present below the stigma. The style leads to the ovary. The ovary is the bulged part of the female reproductive part.
The ovary consists of the placenta and ovules. The ovary is the part where fertilization of male and female gametes takes place. Seed and endosperm formation takes place in the ovary. The number of ovules present in the ovary differs from one species to another. For example, the ovary of wheat has one ovule, whereas papaya has many ovules.

Additional parts of the flower

Apart from the vegetative and reproductive parts, the flower has specialized structures called whorls. The whorls together form the radial arrangement of a flower. The four whorls seen in a flower are calyx, corolla, stamens, and carpels.

  • Calyx - Calyx is the outermost whorl seen in a flower. These are small leafy sepals present the flower’s base. The primary function of the calyx is to protect the flower from mechanical stress and desiccation. Sepals may be free (polysepalous) or united (gamosepalous).
  • Corolla - The second whorl of the flower is the corolla. Its primary functions are to attract pollination agents and to protect the other reproductive flower parts. Corolla usually consists of petals - regular or irregular. The corolla and calyx are together known as perianth.
  • Stamens - The third whorl of the flower is the stamen, the male reproductive part.
  • Carpels - The innermost whorl of the flower is the carpel or pistil, the female reproductive part of the flower.

Types of flowers

The two types of flowers are unisexual and bisexual.
Unisexual flower - A flower consisting of any one of the reproductive organs, i.e. either stamen or pistil, is called a unisexual flower.
Bisexual flower - A flower consisting of both the reproductive organs, i.e. stamen and pistil, is called a bisexual flower.

Functions of a flower

  • The flower is the primary site for the entire process of sexual reproduction.
  • Gametogenesis, fertilization, seed formation, and fruit formation all take place in the flower. However, as the formation of seeds and fruit begins, vegetative parts of the flower wither off. In some fruits, some vegetative parts may not wither away.
  • The flower is the organ responsible for attracting pollinating agents. Be it birds or insects, or a flower has different ways to attract different types of pollinators. Large, brightly coloured, and nectar-rich flowers usually attract insects. Flowers secrete foul odours for attracting beetles and flies. Flowers pollinated by animals are usually sticky. This is how a flower attracts pollinators so that sexual reproduction can take place.
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