Flowers are part of the reproductive life cycle of many plants. In general, plants create flowers to attract insects or animals who help in reproduction by transferring pollen from male flowers to female flowers. Flowers on female plants eventually form fruit or seeds when fertilized.
Flowers are the reproductive organs of flowering plants. Some plants produce both male and female flowers, and thus are more easily pollinated. Other plants produce only male or female flowers and must be relatively close to each other to facilitate pollination.
The structure of a flower is different for male and female flowers and plants. Although all flowers have petals, male flowers have stamen. Stamen is where pollen, or the male reproductive cells of flowers, is made. Female flowers contain a pistil. The pistil sits above and directs pollen down towards an ovule. The ovule is the female reproductive cell of the flower.
In most cases, a plant flowers once per year. If the flower is male, it dies without producing seeds. In some cases, a flower may have both male and female parts. If a plant is female or has a pistil, the flower will produce a fruit or seed after fertilization. The seed or fruit is formed in the same year as the flower, generally in the summer or fall.
For a flower to be fertilized, there must be both male and female flowers within a certain area. The distance between male and female plants will vary, depending on the method of pollination. For example, flowers that contain both male and female flowers may rely on pollination by natural wind or insects like bees. Plants of this type can be relatively close. Other flowering plants, like those that produce either male or female flowers and rely on insects for pollination, can be further apart.
Some plants flower but produce no seeds or fruit. Examples of this are some flowering cherries and plums. Some trees of this type are male trees. Others have been genetically altered to not produce fruit or seeds. Trees and plants of this type are usually used for ornamental purposes.