Incomplete Flowers: Examples, Structure & Quiz

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: 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 is 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 structures.

This image allows us to visualize the sepals, petals, stamen, and pistil of a flower.
Image of a flower

Examples of Incomplete Flowers

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 will notice that some of the flowers have stamens but no pistils and others have pistils but no stamens. This means that some of the flowers on the squash plant 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.

This female squash flower is considered incomplete because it does not have stamens.
Picture of a squash flower.

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 Study.com Member.
Create your account

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member

Already a member? Log In

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 100 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,900 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? Study.com 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.

You now have full access to our lessons and courses, watch the lesson now or keep exploring.
You've watched a video! Now you are officially smarter, check out the next video or take the quiz to keep learning.
You took a quiz! Getting a perfect score on a quiz is how you gain course progress. If you aced it, great job! If not, don't worry, you can try again.
You now have full access to our lessons and courses, watch the lesson now or keep exploring.
You just finished your first lesson. Study.com has thousands of lessons to help you meet your educational goals.
You're making great progress. Aim to watch at least 30 minutes of lessons each day and you'll master this before you know it!
You've learned so much, but only scratched the surface. Wait until you see what we have in your next lesson!
Getting a perfect score on a quiz is how you gain course progress. If you aced it, great job! If not, don’t worry, you can try again.
You're getting the hang of this! Keep taking quizzes to make progress on your learning goals.
Look how far you've come! Take all the quizzes in a chapter and you'll master this topic in no time.
Keep clicking that 'next lesson' button whenever you finish a lesson and its quiz.
You're 25% of the way through this course! Keep going at this rate and you'll be done before you know it.
Two days in a row, nice! Keep your streak going to get the most of your learning and reach your goal faster.