Stopping to enjoy the beauty and scent of a flower is not the only benefit of the Anthophyta, or flowering plant. Most clothing and almost all human food comes from flowering plants. The basis for many controlled and over-the-counter drugs also can be credited to flowers, such as opium.
Function of the Flower
The seeds needed for a plant to reproduce are in the flower. Some flowers have both the female and male parts. The male part of the flower is called the stamen and consists of the anther and stalk. The anther is located at the top, with the filament of the stalk supporting it. Pollen comes from the anther.
The pistil of a flower is the female element of the plant. The stigma is at the top of the pistil and the ovary is located at the bottom. The stile connects them. Seeds of the plant develop in the ovary.
History of the Flower
Flowering plants are the largest group of plants and are divided into two subgroups, Monocots and Dicots. It is believed that the first flowers of flowering plants were Monocots, or flowers having only one cotyledon on the embryo. Some then evolved into plants with two cotyledon, and are called Dicots.
According to fossil records, flowering plants appeared about 140 million years ago, although there are unproven indications that they go back millions of years before that.
Types of Garden Flowers
Most people tend to think of blooms in the garden when they hear the term flower, although grasses, shrubs, trees and vegetables all fall into the flower category.
Garden flowers are generally grouped by annuals and perennials. An annual grows, blooms, seeds and dies in one year. The climate of some regions causes some perennials that cannot survive the winter to be classified as annuals.
Native wildflowers and plants are among plants considered as perennials. Perennials will grow and bloom for years, often with little maintenance. A plant is considered a perennial if it lives for more that two years. A plant living for only two years is considered a biennial.
When reading about flowering plants, it is important to remember that the meaning used by gardeners and botanist are sometimes different. Botanists call the matured ovary of the flower fruit. Individual grains of rice and cotton bolls would be considered fruit. The strawberry, however, would not be considered a fruit by the botanist, although the tiny seed-like particles on the outside of the berry would, as they are the matured ovary.
Significance of Flowers
Flowers are essential to human survival. The most basic significance is the flower as a basis of the diet. The flowering plant provides food for human beings such as nuts and seeds. The leaves, stems and roots of some flowering plants also find their way onto the dinner plate.
Most of the animals consumed by man feed chiefly on flowering plants.