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Flowering Principles

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The Flower and Sexual Reproduction

What comes to mind when someone tells you they are planting flowers? Packs of impatiens and marigolds, a hoe and dirty finger-nails are likely images. Some may have a slightly different version of the flower planting scenario that starts with a 69¢ package of flower seeds bought at the garden, hardware, or grocery store. In contrast, how many of you would ask the person driving the tractor below how his day of flower planting had been going? Even though the driver spent the day on the tractor and the packages of seed he or she was filling their yellow planter boxes with cost, many times more than 69¢, they were essentially planting flowers! Let’s learn about flower structure and flower function and understand why the flower is such an important part of growing plants.

Buying seeds to plant.
Image by Don Lee

Planting seeds on a large scale.
Image courtesy of USDA
Question : Why does a corn or soybean producer want their plants to flower?

A. The flowering fields attract tourists.
B. Flowering is needed to produce seed from each plant.
C. The plants need to flower to survive.
D. None of the above.

The flower is the specialized part of the plant that is designed to produce seeds. You could think of seeds as baby plants since each is (usually) the sexually produced offspring from either one or two parent plants. Sexual production implies that the parent will make sex cells or gametes that carry in them genetic instructions for the offspring. A gamete also has the capability to combine with the gamete of the opposite sex (male with female) and form a cell (the zygote) that can develop into a seed. The flower not only must be the place where gametes are made and seeds are initiated, but also where seeds develop. Plants that reproduce by making seeds are called angiosperms.

A soybean flower.
Image by Joel Stuthman

A soybean pod.
Image by Joel Stuthman

Soybean seeds.
Image by Joel Stuthman



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