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Plant Reproduction

Plant Reproduction

Introduction: Imagine you are a hummingbird and you are hungry. As you fly from your nest to search for food, you remember where you got a tasty treat on your foraging adventures yesterday. As you approach the area, you see lots of bright, colorful plants that are not only pretty at which to look, but also smell great. These colorful leaves are drawing you in.

You have just fallen for a ploy that is hundreds of millions of years old. These colorful plants have flowers, which are specially adapted to bring animals to them in order to help them reproduce. Flowers are the sexual organs of a group of plants called angiosperms. Flowers produce pollen, which is either transported by the wind or by animals (like the hummingbird and bee). Inside of the flower is a structure called an ovule, which, when fertilized by pollen, will develop into a seed.

Many flowers have both male and female reproductive parts. These are called perfect flowers (those that do not have both are called imperfect flowers). The male part of a flower is called the stamen and is what produces pollen. The female part of the flower is called the pistil and it makes the ovule. In the diagram below, the parts of the flower are:
A - stigma (female) B - style (female)
C - anther (male) D - filament (male)
E - petal F - ovary (female)
G - sepal H - ovule (female)
I - stem

Flower Diagram

Many angiosperms also produce fruits to protect their seeds. The ovules develop inside of a structure called the ovary. As the ovary ripens, it becomes fleshy and fat. This is to protect the seed. As luck would have it, many of these ripened ovaries taste good, which is also an advantage to the plant. Larger animals eat the fruit, seeds and all. As the animal moves from place to place, it poops out the seeds in a new location, thereby helping the plant to disperse and spread its genes.

Another type of seeded plant is called a gymnosperm. Gymnosperms do not make flowers, but rather protect their seeds within cones. Conifers, ginkoes, and cycads are examples. These plants tend to move their pollen by the wind from one plant to another.

Directions for this Lesson: Answer the practice questions and then watch the video to learn more about how vascular plants reproduce.

Required Video: