Structure of a Typical Flowering Plant


Flowering plants, also known as angiosperms, have created mechanisms to survive and reproduce in almost every environment on Earth. The flower itself serves both to attract pollinators and to protect the egg cells that, when fertilized, will grow into seeds that are shielded from damage by a hard outer wall. Roots, stems and leaves all contribute to the success of each plant.


The structure of a flowering plant is designed to maximize survival and reproduction. The veining of the leaves and the strength of the stems give them the ability to increase the area of the plant devoted to photosynthesis, making food. The flower is designed to attract pollinators and protect the developing embryo.


Though you might think that it is the flower that makes a flowering plant different from a non-flowering one such as a pine tree, it is actually the fruit that makes it special. The egg is fertilized by two sperm and develops into both an embryo and an endosperm, a food supply for the embryo. The ovary then develops into the fruit surrounding the seed. A pine tree, however, has naked seeds that lack the protection of a fruit.


A flowering plant will have roots that both anchor the plant in the ground and absorb nutrients, a stem or trunk that serves to hold the leaves and flowers up above the ground, leaves whose cells have chloroplasts that absorb light and produce food for the plant by the process of photosynthesis and flowers that produce seeds for reproduction.


To identify the different parts of a typical plant, look closely at each section, perhaps using a low-powered hand lens as an aid. Roots are usually below ground and terminate in small branchlets that have "root hairs," single cell thick extensions whose function is the absorption of water and minerals. Stems usually have branches along them, each with an axillary bud, a single bud where the branch joins the stem. Leaves have a network of veins or many veins running parallel to each other from the base to the tip of the leaf. Flowers have petals that are often brightly colored; green leaflike sepals below that; stamens, the male part, tipped with anthers that hold pollen; and pistils, the female part of the flower.


The evolution of flowering plants has produced a very successful group of plants, one that has colonized almost every environment. The protection of the seed by the fruit, the petals that have been modified to attract specific pollinators and the various mechanisms that have evolved for seed dispersal have allowed flowering plants to adapt to many climate conditions and ecological situations.

Keywords: flowering plant structure, flower evolutionary adaptations, plant antomy

About this Author

Over the past 30 years, Mara Grey has sold plants in nurseries, designed gardens and volunteered as a Master Gardener. She is the author of "The Lazy Gardener" and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Flower Gardening" and has a Bachelor of Science in botany.