A typical flower has four parts: the calyx, the corolla, the stamens and the pistol. Because flowers come in a myriad of shapes and colors, it is not always easy to identify the flower parts. For example, what appears to be the flower petals on a bougainvillea are actually colorful leaves surrounding the plant’s tiny flowers.
At the base of a rose bud, where it attaches to the stem, are small green leaf-like structures. These are sepals, which make up the flower’s calyx. For most flower types, the calyx is the first part of the flower to develop and its job is to protect the flower’s interior. Typically the calyx remains attached to the flower after it blooms. Not all sepals look like leaves; in some flowers, they look more like flower petals.
The flower’s petals make up the corolla. The job of the corolla is to attract birds and insects to the plant for pollination. This is accomplished by both color and scent. Flower petals are typically brilliantly colored or have attractive markings that lure the birds and insects to the plant. Flower petals can also have a fragrant oily substance that attracts visitors. There are many distinct fragrances in the flower world, such as the rose, jasmine, lilac and gardenia.
Pollen is produced by the flower’s stamens, which are considered the male parts of the flower. For most flowers two parts make up each stamen: an antler and a filament. The filament is a slender stalk that often rises from the center of the blossom. The antler is at the tip of the filament, comprised of four pollen producing pockets. When the pollen is ripe the pockets split open, releasing the pollen. In some flowers the stamens are separate structures, and in others they are fused together.
While the stamens are considered the flower’s male parts, the pistils are the flower’s female parts. The pistils produce the plant’s seeds. Some flowers have one pistil, yet most have two or more and often the pistils are fused to form what is referred to as a compound pistil. When a flower has a compound pistil, the individual pistils that form the compound pistil are called carpels. Normally the pistil will have three parts: a stigma, a style and an ovary. The ovary is located at the base of the pistil, while the style is the tube that leads from the ovary to the top of the pistil, or stigma, which has a sticky substance to grab hold of pollen.