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Flowers -the Make up and Parts of a Flower

Updated on September 30, 2015


Large and colourful blossoms
Large and colourful blossoms | Source

Notes from a Lancashire Countryman.

This is the fourth article in the series on how plants live and thrive. The first roots and rhizomes I looked at the different type of roots and their function. In the second I reviewed the leaves in the article foliage and their function, which carried over into the third article foliage and their uses two.

Now it is the flower, also referred to as blossom, or bloom, that is under review. Many components make up the flower as we shall see. Once again I will attempt to keep the text as simple as possible but some botanical terminology is unavoidable.

The most obvious detail of a flower { but not always} is the one that attracts the eye and often has one standing in admiration-the petals and their colour. They are often brightly coloured and/or/ of unusual shapes, which draw the eye to their beauty. Although we benefit from this natural beauty, indeed, nursing and nurturing them until we are awarded by their beauty, it is not for our sakes that they do so. All this coloured gaiety is for the purpose of attracting pollinating insects of the insect fraternity and other invertebrates, in order that the species will set seed and reproduce others of their ilk.

Bumblebee on flower

Bees are important pollinators.
Bees are important pollinators. | Source

Many readers {with the exception of knowledgeable plants men} will have come across the word carolla within the text of flower books, regardless of the plant being a cultivated variety or wild, without knowing exactly what it is.

Together all the petals of a flower are referred to as the carolla. The word comes from Latin corolla meaning a garland from corona a crown. Incidently the word petal derives from a Latinised Greek word petalon meaning a leaf. { indeed petals are modified leaves}.

Some corollas are fused together to make a tube as in some species of fucshia. others form lobes at the opening which defines the corolla petals from the tube.

Fused corolla

Some corollas are fused together to form a corolla tube
Some corollas are fused together to form a corolla tube | Source


The corolla [petals} extends outwards from the calyx {see below}. nestled within these structures are anthers, stamen and stigma. we will review these and their functions later in the text.

Petals often grow with another set of modified leaves called sepals which are often located just below the corolla, in the case of many species of buttercups for instance they clasp the petals from below. They are more often than not a different shape and/or/colour from the petals thus are easily distinguished. However, this is not always the case some species such as the wood anemone have sepal like petals. When petals and sepals of a flower look similar they are referred to as tepals.

Wood anemone {no petals}

Wood anemones do not have petals but petal like sepals.
Wood anemones do not have petals but petal like sepals. | Source

The calyx

The sepals together are called the calyx which derives from the Greek word kalux meaning a shell from kaluptien to cover or hide. The calyx {sepals} and the petals {corolla} together form what is referred to as the perianth from the Greek peri-indicating around or near+anthos a flower.

Sepals on different flower species vary and can appear much smaller, awn like, scale like or similar to teeth. One function of the calyx{sepals} is to enclose the flower when in bud to protect the vulnerable softer tissues.

Frosty bud

The sepals are covering this frost bound bud
The sepals are covering this frost bound bud | Source

Stamens and pollen

Now we are to review the less conspicuous parts of the flower starting with the stamens{in some plants they are quite visible protruding beyond the petals {see photograph below.}. each stamen the word derives from the Latin stare meaning to stand, is the main male reproductive organs of the flower. The stamen usually has a stalk known as the filament from the Latin filum meaning a thread. At the tip of each filament there resides an anther From the Greek anthos a flower, along with pollen sacs. These sacs contain pollen grains.

The pollen when ready, is released by dehiscence of the anther. {dehiscence from Latin dehiscence from dehiscere meaning to split open from DE+hiscere meaning to yawn. the pollen is transported to the waiting carpel of the same flower or indeed another flower, by which method pollination occurs. The carpel is the female reproductive organ of flowering plants which consists of an ovary, style and stigma. The carpels are separate or fused to form a single pistil. carpel is from the Greek karpos meaning fruit.

The pollen is transported to the carpel by a variety of means which includes the wind, water, some member of insect land or by merely falling down. Typical flowers have six stamens inside the perianthe {the petals and sepals together} arranged around the carpel. Readers that are interested in the complex types and functions of the stamens can obtain this information from books on botany or from specialist web sites. This includes how the anther is attached to the filaments and the botanical terms for such attachments. Within the confines of this hub it would be impossible to go into every detail and botanical terminology required to do the subject justice.

However, it may be of interest to the reader to note that there are some species of plants that are unisexed, with either all male or all female parts.Monoecious means both types of flower occur on the same plant,dioecious means that the male male and female flowers are borne on different plants thus two types of plants are required to allow pollination to occur, such plants include nettle and the red campion.

Gallery of Stamens and Flowers

This image shows the stamens protruding from the corolla.
This image shows the stamens protruding from the corolla. | Source
Hoverflies help to disperse the pollen
Hoverflies help to disperse the pollen | Source

Male Reproduction Parts

A plant that only has male reproduction parts are known as Androceious from andros meaning man. The flowers with only female reproductive parts are referred to as being gynoecious, from gyne meaning a woman.

The fruit {seed capsules} is the ripened ovary together with the seeds. See FRUIT AND SEED DISPERSAL MECHANISMS OF PLANTS. Bracts are covered in FOLIAGE AND THEIR FUNCTIONS TWO.

Hips of the rose

The fruit capsules {hip} of the wild rose
The fruit capsules {hip} of the wild rose | Source

Flower bud

Next under review is the flower bud {and leaf bud} .The buds of many woody species and especially those that grow in cold climates are covered by scale-like structures which are again modified leaves. Many such scales are protected by viscid substances which protect the interior tissues from inclement weather and from attacks by insects and other invertebrates. A good example is the bud of the horse chestnut.

Other species, especially garden annuals lack these scales and are referred to as naked buds.The modified leaves that protect these buds are usually very hairy. As with all parts of a plant or tree the buds have their own terminology to describe their location, an example being TERMINAL. As the name suggests these buds are located at the tip of a branch or stem. Axillary buds are located in the leaf axil.

The common ash tree has a terminal bud and two lateral buds one at each side of the twig. These are prominent through the winter months and are a good identifying feature of the ash tree at that time.

Tree Buds

The terminal bud and two sides buds are evident in this image
The terminal bud and two sides buds are evident in this image | Source
Beneath the three leaves you can see the sticky scales that have opened
Beneath the three leaves you can see the sticky scales that have opened | Source

Bud words

There are words for the buds status such as dormant, for morphology such as scaly,naked, hairy etc. Over the the four hubs we have reviewed the basic functions , shapes and parts of living plants and trees, that together help them to thrive in the locations that they grow. along with related hubs we have followed the journey of the plants' life from the germination of the seed, which produces the roots that anchor them into their growing medium. The roots provide the water and other nutrients for the above ground growth.

We have reviewed the functions , texture and shapes of the foliage , and flowers which form the seeds, thus our journey has ended where it began. Botany is a subject of immense and complex variations which would fill volumes to do it justice. Over the four articles in this series I have attempted to bring the very basic points to the reader so that they {I hope} will have a better understanding of our living flora.

Gallery of flowers and foliage

Angelica flowers
Angelica flowers | Source
Flowers come in every size and colour but every part of every flower has an important role to play
Flowers come in every size and colour but every part of every flower has an important role to play | Source
Snapdragon flowers
Snapdragon flowers | Source
Insects of folaige
Insects of folaige | Source
Foliage of the Weeping Willow
Foliage of the Weeping Willow | Source


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    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi, sofs you are most welcome any time. Thank you for your kind comments, and best wishes to you.

    • sofs profile image


      7 years ago

      I was here back again to look at your photographs..they never fail to inspire me :) Thank you for sharing these amazing hubs :)

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      adyasha, nice to meet you, your kind comments are appreciated.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      very good informations

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      lex123, thank you for reading and for taking the time to leave your appreciated comments.

    • lex123 profile image


      8 years ago

      Beautiful hub. The photos are wonderful. I love seeing these photographs again.

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Scribenet,nice to meet you, thank you so much for your kind comments. Best wishes to you.

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Scribenet, thank you so much for your kind comments. Best wishes to you.

    • Scribenet profile image


      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      D.A.L. These photographs are gorgeous. I don't have time tonight to read this Hub, but I will be back because I love gardening and reading about plants! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi Darski, thank you for your wonderful comments, and I admire your work equally. Glad I have been of assistance adding to your knowledge, love and best wishes to you.

      sofs, Thank you also for your kind and encouraging comments it is always a pleasure to see you here. Best wishes to you.

    • sofs profile image


      8 years ago

      D A L your pictures are awesome. As usual I have to keep coming back to see your photographs again and again. Rated this hub up!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      8 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Oh what beauty, I had to see your photos over and over again, and I really did think the beauty of the bloom was to please my eye, now my heart is broken. to my first and olderst friend here on hub pages, I want you to know I admire your writing, I have learned so much and I wish I could spend more time reading them over and over again. You are an amazing person and feel honored to know you. Love you always, darski rate up


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