How to Identify Types of Flowers


Due to the complexity of flowering plants, there are several ways of "typing," or identifying, them. Knowing different ways to type plants can give a gardener valuable information. Discovering a plant is male, for instance, tells you not to expect fruit. Understanding that a flower is wind-pollinated, meanwhile, might explain why a sheltered plant is not reproducing. Knowledge of types also provides a foundation that allows you to authoritatively seek out more information on the flower from experts or references.

Step 1

Record information you have observed about the flower: when it blooms, how long the blooms last, what kind of creatures visit it and so on.

Step 2

Take pictures of the flower. One picture should show as many parts as possible. Take other pictures that will give you a good record--overhead shots, head-on shots and shots of open and closed flowers.

Step 3

Determine whether the flower type is incomplete or complete. If complete, it will have four groups of parts arranged in circles or whorls. Count from the outside-bottom of the flower to the inside middle of the flower to look for sepals, petals, stamens and pistils.

Step 4

Determine whether the flower type is perfect or imperfect. If there are two groups of parts within the petal ring, the plant is perfect, possessing both stamens and pistils.

Step 5

Determine whether the flower type is androgynous and bisexual or unisexual. If the flower is perfect, it is androgynous. If not, it is unisexual--that is, either male or female.

Step 6

Determine, if the plant is unisexual, whether the flower type is male (staminate) or female (pistillate). If, inside the petals, only one group of parts is present, determine sex by identifying male stamens, possessed of filaments topped by a lobe called an anther, or a female stigma, with a bulbous base, a columnar style and a stigma top.

Step 7

Determine whether the flower type is monocot or dicot. Count how many petals the flower possesses. On a monocot, petals tend to occur in multiples of three. On dicots, they tend to occur in multiples of four or five. The individual parts of the other whorls will also occur in multiples according to whether the flower is a monocot or dicot.

Step 8

Determine whether the flower type is an actinomorph or a zygomorph by looking at the flower from overhead. Check for radial symmetry (an actinomorph, with parts spaced evenly around the center as in a daisy) or a lack thereof, as in the viola (zygomorph).

Step 9

Determine whether the flower type is wind- or creature-pollinated. Those evolved for insect pollination tend to be large, showy and scented.

Things You'll Need

  • Blank field journal
  • Camera


  • Arizona Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Manual: Flowers
  • Botany online: Features of Flowering Plants - Flowers
  • Monocots vs. Dicots-The Two Classes of Flowering Plants
Keywords: types of flowers, flower types, identifying flower types

About this Author

S. Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media who specializes in making the complex clear. A freelancer for over 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover many topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews, learning a lot and talking to many interesting people.