How to Identify the Parts of a Flower

Overview

A few pieces of information make it easier to identify flower parts. First, all flowers, no matter how different from one another they appear to be, share the same four basic parts. Second, not every flower has all four parts. Finally and most conveniently, the parts of a flower are always arranged in the same way. The parts appear in whorls or concentric circles, with sepals on the outside, followed by petals, stamens and, finally, in the very center of the flower, pistils. Knowing this arrangement makes identifying flower parts much easier.

Step 1

Count the number of flower parts based on appearance. If you find four distinct groups of parts, you need merely note where the parts fall in relation to the others to know what parts they are.

Step 2

Look for petals to orient yourself if you couldn't identify the four basic parts. Petals are the showiest, most colorful parts of flowers.

Step 3

Look beneath the petals for the sepals, located between the flower stalk or stem and the petals. Sepals are most easy to see when flowers are in the bud stage, for sepals enclose flowers as they develop, protecting other flower parts.

Step 4

Look just inside the petals for stamens, which tend to be easy to identify by their anatomy. Stamens look like thin stems rising up within the flower--the filament--which have a roundish or ovoid knob on top. The top of the stamen is called the anther, which is often made up of two lobes.

Step 5

Look in the very center of the flower for the pistil. The pistil looks like a bowling pin or wine bottle, with a bulbous base (the ovary) and a style capped by what is called a stigma.

Step 6

Lay the flower down and cut it in half vertically if you still haven't figured out the parts. Looking at the dissected flower might better reveal arrangement and the shapes of parts. Flower diagrams often show flowers from this view.

Things You'll Need

  • Flowers
  • Sharp knife

References

  • "Botany: A Functional Approach"; Walter H. Muller; 1970
  • "Botany"; Taylor R. Alexander, R. Will Burnett, Herbert S, Zim; 1970
  • Botany Online: Features of Flowering Plants-Flowers

Who Can Help

  • The University of the Western Cape: The Parts of a Flower
Keywords: flower parts, pistil, stamen, petals, sepals

About this Author

S. Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media who specializes in making the complex clear. A freelancer for over 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover many topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews, learning a lot and talking to many interesting people.