Flowers are the mechanism by which plants reproduce themselves. While can be are lovely, colorful or fragrant, their role is to produce seeds for the next generation of plants. Flowers use different methods to attract pollinators. Some bloom in winter when there are few other plants blossoming. Others use attractive scents. And still others depend on colors; for example, hummingbirds prefer red flowers.
Many trees bloom in some form or another. The flowers may be quite small and appear hidden or not look like flowers at all, such as Chinese elm trees. Others have huge flowers that are impossible to miss, such as magnolia trees. Most biologists agree that pine trees don't have true flowers but rather, "strobili," which have the same function as flowers and are even referred to as flowers. Fruit trees flower and produce edible fruit which contain the seeds. These include apple, cherry, pear, orange, peach and apricot among many others.
Some fruit trees are grown for their decorative value rather than any fruit they produce such as crab apples, and ornamental plum and cherry trees.
Annuals are plants that live for one season. They grow, bloom, set seed and die by the end of that growing season. Some annuals set seed so prolifically that they will pop up in the same spot year after year. However, these are new plants, not the same plant from year to year.
Vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower are edible annual flowers.
Perennials are plants that live from season to season. The plants grow and flower. At the end of the growing season the leaves, and sometimes branches, will look dead. But the plant is alive and well. It's just "sleeping," or dormant. Roses are perennials, as are many flowers such as foxglove, delphiniums and Shasta daisies. Artichokes are the edible flower of a perennial plant.
Bulbs, Corms and Tubers
Perhaps the most commonly known flower bulbs are those that flower in the spring, like tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. Bulbs have the embryo of the entire plant within themselves. After the bulb has bloomed the leaves store up energy for the next season's bloom. Bulbs also include the edible kind such as onions, garlic and shallots. All of these will flower if left in the ground rather than harvested.
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