Flowers are used to decorate our landscapes and gardens. They are given as gifts and used to make wedding bouquets and prom corsages. Their fragrant oils add scent to perfumes, cosmetics and household products. But even if humans ignored the flower, it would continue to serve a vital role in the ecosystem.
A flower is a blossom and sometimes a plant known primarily for its blossoms is called a flower. Most plants have flowers, yet in some cases the flowers are so visibly inconspicuous that people don't consider the plant flower bearing and the blossoms are overlooked.
The flower contains the plant's reproductive parts. It is the portion of the plant where pollen is made, seeds develop and pollination occurs. Some plants pollinate themselves, while other plants pollinate other plants of the same type, and if self-pollination occurs in this second group, infertile plants typically develop.
Most flowers have four basic parts: the calyx, corolla, pistil and stamen. The calyx often looks like leaves at the base of the corolla. It is the first part of the flower to develop and protects the merging blossom. The corolla is made up of the flower's petals. The function of the petals is to attract insects and birds to the plant, to assist in pollination. This is done by the petals' colors, odors or both. Once the birds or insects visit the flower they carry the pollen from that plant to the next.
The pollen needed to fertilize the plant's seeds, is produced by the stamens, which is considered the male part of the flower. The stamen is made up of a filament, which is typically a ribbon-like thread in the center of the blossom. On the top of the filament is an engorged tip where the pollen develops in sacks. When ripe, the sacks break open and release the pollen.
The plant's seeds develop in the female organs of the flower, called the pistil. The pistil is usually made up of a stigma, style and ovary. The stigma has a sticky tip that traps the pollen which is typically brought to the plant by birds and insects. From the stigma the pollen moves down a tube-like structure called the style and to the ovary where the seeds are located. After a seed is fertilized by sperm from the pollen it has the potential of growing into a new plant after it matures and finds its way to fertile soil.