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Flower

Flowers are the reproductive organs of some plants. Their function is to produce the seeds for the next generation.

A plant that has flowers is called an angiosperm. A plant that has seeds but no flowers is called a gymnosperm[?].

Anatomy

A flower has four main parts:

  • calyx is the outer part, usually green and has sepals[?].
  • corolla[?] is the part that contains the petals, which are thin, soft, and colored, to attract insects that help in the process of pollination.
  • androecium[?] (from Greek andros: man) contains the stamens, which are sticks, with each filament ending with an anther carrying pollen. Pollen contains the male gametes.

  • gynoecium[?] (from Greek gynos: woman) contains the pistil[?], an aggregation of carpels, which are the female reproductive organs and contain an ovary with ovules (female gametes).

Some species of plants produce separate male flowers (containing the stamens) and female flowers (containing the pistil). In some of these species, an individual plant is either male or female; in others, male and female flowers appear on the same plant. In other species, individual flowers have both pistils and stamens. Some of these flowers are capable of self-fertilization, which increases the chance of producing seeds, but limits genetic variation. The extreme case of this is flowers that always self-fertilize, such as the common dandelion. Conversely, some species of plants have ways of preventing self-fertilization. Male and female flowers on the same plant may not appear at the same time, or pollen from the same plant may be incapable of fertilizing its ovules.

A major function of flowers is to attract animals to pollinate the plant. Bees and birds are among the common pollinators: both have color vision, thus selecting for colorful flowers. (Some white flowers have patterns in the ultraviolet, which are visible to bees but not to humans.) Flowers also attract pollinators by scent. In either case, the pollinators come to the plant in search of nectar, which they eat: in gathering nectar from many flowers of the same species, the pollinators transfer pollen between the flowers. Flower scent is not always pleasant to the nose: some plants (such as Rafflesia and the titan arum) are pollinated mainly by flies, so produce a scent imitating rotten meat.

Arts

The great variety of delicate and beautiful flowers has inspired the works of poets. This is a short fragment called "Ah! Sun-Flower" from William Blake:

Ah, Sun-flower weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun,
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller's journey is done:

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.

Sources

see also botany, biology, flowering plant



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