Incomplete Flowers: Examples & Structure

Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Incomplete Flowers
  • 0:43 Examples
  • 2:29 Lesson Summary
Create An Account
To Start This Course Today
Used by over 10 million students worldwide
Create An Account
Try it free for 5 days
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derrick Arrington

Derrick has taught biology and chemistry at both the high school and college level. He has a master's degree in science education.

Many people assume that all flowers have the same parts. In this lesson, we will investigate incomplete flowers. We will see what makes a flower incomplete, and look at common examples of them.

Structure of Incomplete flowers

Structurally, flowers consist of four main parts: the sepals, petals, stamens and pistils. Any flower that does not have one or more of these parts is considered to be an incomplete flower.

Sepals are leaf-like, usually green, and form a circle around the flower stem beneath the petal. They function to enclose and protect the flower while it's developing. Petals are the leaf-like, usually colorful structures arranged in a circle around the top of the flower stem. Their primary function is to attract pollinators for the purpose of reproduction. Stamens are the male reproductive structures of flowers, and pistils are the female reproductive structures.


Any flower missing one or more of those four crucial parts is considered to be incomplete. There are many examples of incomplete flowers, including squash plants, sweet corn, American holly and most grasses.

You may have grown traditional squash in your summer garden. As the plant grows and prepares to make its fruit it must undergo fertilization. For fertilization to take place, the squash plant must produce a flower. If you closely examine the bright yellow flowers of squash plants, you'll notice that some of the flowers have stamens but no pistils, and others have pistils but no stamens. This means that on the squash plant, some of the flowers are male and some are female. This also makes them classic examples of incomplete flowers because each flower is lacking either the male or female structure.

Sweet corn is another common plant in most gardens. These tall plants that tower over most others in the garden are adapted for wind pollination. This means they do not really have a need for brightly colored flowers to attract pollinators. As a result, the flowers of corn plants do not have petals. This lack of petals means that corn is considered an incomplete flower.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member

Already a member? Log In

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 49 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Click "next lesson" whenever you finish a lesson and quiz. Got It
You now have full access to our lessons and courses. Watch the lesson now or keep exploring. Got It
You're 25% of the way through this course! Keep going at this rate,and you'll be done before you know it.
The first step is always the hardest! Congrats on finishing your first lesson.
Way to go! If you watch at least 30 minutes of lessons each day you'll master your goals before you know it.
Congratulations on earning a badge for watching 10 videos but you've only scratched the surface. Keep it up!
You've just watched 20 videos and earned a badge for your accomplishment!
You've just earned a badge for watching 50 different lessons. Keep it up, you're making great progress!
You just watched your 100th video lesson. You have earned a badge for this achievement!
Congratulations! You just finished watching your 200th lesson and earned a badge!
Congratulations! You just finished watching your 300th lesson and earned a badge!
You are a superstar! You have earned the prestigious 500 video lessons watched badge.
Incredible. You have just entered the exclusive club and earned the 1000 videos watched badge.
You have earned a badge for watching 20 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 50 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 100 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 250 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 500 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 1000 minutes of lessons.