Flowers are often seen as beautiful, natural additions to gardens and the interiors of homes. The shape and color of the flower petals appeal to many, and flowers are often used in a variety of ceremonial practices such as wedding ceremonies. What many flower enthusiasts may not realize is that flowers are actually sex organs of plants that play an important role in helping the plant species survive.
The female parts of the flowers are the ovaries, which are made up of ovules, styles and the stigma. The style is a tubular structure that extends from the ovaries. On top of this tube is a structure called the stigma, which is very receptive to the pollen that is intended to fertilize the ovaries. The pollen lands on the stigma, which absorbs it. This pollen travels through the style to the ovaries.
The male parts of the ovaries are the stamens, which have anthers that are filled with the pollen used to fertilize the ovaries. These anthers are attached to what is called a filament, or stalk. These anthers are usually located in the center of the flower.
The parts of the flower that flower enthusiasts often love are the colorful corolla, a collection of brightly colored petals. In addition to attracting pollinators, the corolla protects the reproductive organs of the flower. Protecting the flower buds are septals, which are leafy structures.
The pollen leaves the anthers usually through a variety of forces such as the wind and animals. Insects play a huge role in moving pollen. For instance, many bees are attracted to a secreted chemical called nectar, which the bees use to make honey. The bees rub against the anthers, which distributes pollen on to the anthers. These bees then travel to other flowers, where they rub pollen off onto the stigmas of the plants. These bees, and often other insects, are attracted to the colors on the flowers.
When the pollen fertilizes the ovary, the ovule gradually morphs into the seed. From this point, the plant will want the seed to be distributed somewhere where it can germinate and grow a new plant. The ovary morphs into a fruit, often with the fruit then being consumed by an animal that distributes the seeds by dropping them away from the plant.
Plants attempt to reproduce for the same reason that animals reproduce: because those organisms that successfully reproduce are the only organisms that survive. Sexual reproduction is common among plants, and it not only protects plants from harmful genetic diseases, but also allows for the healthier traits of the plants to be selected and passed on, allowing the species to become stronger with each new generation.