Ed Golson Outdoor Education

what are flowers?

All sorts of plants have flowers- even if their flowers can't easily be seen. In addition to the flowering plants that you would normally think of, plants like grasses and deciduous trees also have flowers. The main purpose of flowers is to make seeds and fruit.  There are many different parts of a flower so scroll down to see what makes up a flower.

Structural parts of the flower

Petal - This is the part of the flower that is used to attract insects into the flower so that the flower can be pollinated.  Some flowers have lines on them and may be scented to point and guide insects to the inside of the flower.

Flower stalk  - This is sometimes known as the stem.  This gives support to the flower and elevates the flower for insects.  It also carries nutrients and water from the ground to the flower.

Sepal  - These green petal-like parts protect the flower when it is developing from a bud.

Receptacle   - This is where the flower attaches to the stalk, or stem.  Sometimes this becomes a fruit after fertilization, like in strawberries. 

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Female parts of the flower

Pistil - This is the female part of the flower. It is made of the stigma, style, and ovary.

Stigma - This is the part of the flower that is on top of the style and above the pistil.  This part of the flower is sticky and will hold the pollen grains. 

Style   - This is the tube-like part of the flower that raises the stigma away from the pistil.  The purpose of that is so that it will reduce the chance of pollen contamination.  This leads down into the ovary which contains the ovules.

Ovary  - The ovary protects and surrounds the ovule. After pollination occurs, this part of the flower will become the fruit.


Ovules   - This is a very important part of the flower because it later becomes the seed or seeds.

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Male parts of the flower

Stamen  - This is the male part of the flower.  It has two parts to it: the anther and the filaments.

Filament  - This is the fine hair-like stalk holding up the anther.

Anther  - This part of the flower contains pollen sacs.  They produce pollen and place it on the outside of the anthers that become stuck on the insects when they land on the flower. 

Pollen grains  - These are powdery parts of the flower that contain the male sex cells

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