Phase Four: Flowers and Fruit

Most garden plants have flowers at some point during their life cycle. Flowers originally developed as a way to attract insects for pollination. Some flowers adapted for pollination by birds and even bats. Many flowers depend upon the wind to scatter pollen.

All flowers have the following parts: sepals, petals, pistils, stamens, pollen, ovaries, anthers, and fruit.

All flowers share common parts for reproduction. There are female elements and male elements.These male and female elements may be in the same flower or in different flowers. The farther apart these elements are, the more dependent the plant is upon an outside force for pollination. The most important pollinators are the insects that rely on flowers for food.

Flower pollen provides food for insects, especially bees, and it is often produced in great quantities. Nectar attracts insects to the flower which guarantees that the pollen is carried away. When an insect collects nectar from a flower, some pollen from the stamens sticks to its body. When the insect flies to another flower, some pollen may rub off onto the pistil of another flower. Plants would not be able to produce seeds and make new plants if it weren't for insect helpers.

Phase Four Vocabulary Definitions:

Flower - Where the seed develops. Flowers have bright colors or a special scent to attract insects.

Sepals - The outer green parts of the base of the flower that look like leaves. They protect the flower bud before it opens. Inside the sepals are colored petals.

Petals - Colorful parts that surround the center of the flower.

Pistil - The female seed-producing part of a flower. It appears as a single stalk in the center of the flower.

Stamens - Stalks around the pistil, the male organ inside the petals. Stamens are the part of the flower that produces pollen.

Pollen - Fine yellowish dust made by stamens inside a flower that contains the male sperm cells.

Ovary - The pouch at the bottom of the pistil where seeds form. Ovaries are the female part of the flower, which produces eggs that are needed for making seeds.

Fruits - Produced in the ovaries of flowers.

Insects - Carry pollen from flower to flower (especially bees).

Nectar - The sweet substance that attracts insects or birds that pollinate the flower.

Pollination - The moment when ripe pollen lands on a ripe stigma.

Stigma - The tip of the female part of the flower, which receives the male pollen grains.

Anther - The pollen bearing part of the stamen.