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How Do Flower Petals Help the Plant?

Flower Petal Function

Flower petals are located on a flower's corolla. They are usually colored and often scented. Flower petals may produce nectar. The function of flower petals is to help pollinate the plant so it may propagate. Each kind of flower evolved a different type of petal that aids that specific species.

Flower petals aid in pollination because they attract insects, birds or bats to the plant in question. The color of the flower petals, the scent of the flower and the nectar all help with this attraction. Once the flower has attracted a specific animal, the animal will usually feed on the flower’s nectar and collect some of the flower’s pollen on its body. Then, when the animal goes to feed on another flower of the same species, and sometimes of the same plant, it leaves some of the first flower’s pollen on the second flower. This exchange of pollen is what helps flowers reproduce.

Some flower petals have guidelines, which are small lines that attract insects to the pollen. Certain plants only open their flowers during the day and close them at night. Insects that only visit during the day pollinate these plants. Therefore, the flowers are only open when the insects that pollinate them are around. As night falls, the flower closes to conserve its scent.

Pollination by Insects, Birds and Mammals

Flower petals that attract insects are often brightly colored, have a strong scent, guidelines and produce nectar. The brightly colored flowers attract insects, as does the strong scent. These types of flowers have guidelines on the petals to guide the insect to the pollen. The nectar encourages the insect to enter the flower to feed on the nectar and pick up or deposit pollen.

Flower petals that attract birds are often tube shaped, red or yellow in color and have no scent.The flower petals are red or yellow because birds respond to these colors best. The flowers are tube shaped so a hummingbird’s long beak can easily fit inside and collect nectar and pollen. Scent is not needed to attract birds.

Flower petals that attract mammals, such as bats, often have a fruity scent, white petals and flowers that only open at night. Bats that pollinate flowers are attracted to fruit, which is why these flowers give off such a scent. Bats feed at night so that is when the flowers open.

Pollination by Wind and Water

Flowers pollinated by the wind often have a lack of flamboyant petals, protruding stigmas (the flower's male organ), light pollen and no scent. These flowers do not need large petals or a scent to attract animals, but they need a large stigma and light pollen so the wind can carry the pollen to a different flower.

Flowers pollinated by the water often have special pollen that floats on top of the water. The water aids in these flowers' pollination, so the pollen must float to reach another flower and reproduce.

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