Every day, in and out of your house, you are around flowering plants. Almost all of the plants in your daily life consist of flowering plants, from your front lawn to your perennial garden, from your oak tree to your vegetable garden. Imagining life without flowering plants is a difficult and bleak endeavor.
While non-flowering plants have existed for 400 million years, flowering plants have only been around for about 130 million years. Mammals roamed the planet when flowering plants emerged. However, due to the efficiency of their design, flowering plants thrived and adapted quickly. Soon flowering plants dominated the planet, existing in every type of climate. Today there are over 430 flowering plant families and over 230,000 species of flowering plants.
Almost all of the food we grow is from a flowering plant, and every animal we eat was fed flowering plants. Flowering plants make up almost 90 percent of the plant kingdom, and it is from these plants that we get our oxygen. Flowering plants prevent erosion, replenish soil and inspire us every day. Without flowering plants, the earth would become a barren place.
The flowering plant's most significant part is its flower. The flower is the reproductive organ of the plant containing a stamen (the male, pollen-producing part) and pistils (the female part), which contains the ovules. Ovules are what will one day grow into a seed after the pistil receives pollen from the stamen. Flowers also have petals and sepals--modified leaves--to protect the flower's reproductive structures.
The flower works in a variety of ways for its plant. The complete and perfect flower, or bisexual flower, has all four parts (sepals, petals, stamen and pistil). Imperfect flowers, or unisexual flowers, have only the stamen or the pistil, but not both. The complete flower can pollinate itself. However, the imperfect flower needs both the male and the female flower to pollinate. Sometimes the male and female flowers are both on the same plant, however sometimes you will need a male plant and a female plant for cross-pollination.
Each family of flowering plants contains a wide variety of flowers. The largest plant family, the sunflower family, includes the fleabane (a flower as small as a pinhead) and the giant sunflower (a flower that is bigger than your head). The families of flowering plants are equally diverse. To witness the diversity of flowering plants you can view the orchid family next to the legume family next to the grass family. You can also find flowering plants which are parasitic and flowering plants which are carnivorous.