Plant Reproduction Lesson for Kids
What Is Plant Reproduction?
Springtime is the season for warmer weather, sunshine, spring showers, and growing plants. You might also find yourself sneezing a lot or having itchy eyes. Plants produce dust-like pollen and spores that can cause uncomfortable allergies for humans.
Some plants can reproduce asexually (asexual plant reproduction requires only one parent cell that splits into two). However, most plants need pollen or spores to make new plants. This second process is called sexual plant reproduction. The creation of new plants happens year after year and plays an essential role in life on Earth.
Reproduction of Flowering Plants
Plant reproduction requires the male and female parts of the plant. Pollen is the male cell - it's the yellow dust made on the stamen, or male reproductive part, of the flower. The female part is called the pistil, which contains the ovaries that produce eggs, and it's located in the center of the flower. The pistil also contains the stigma, a sticky bulb that the pollen attaches itself to.
Flowering Plant Reproduction Process
The process of reproduction can be broken into two steps:
- Pollination is the process of moving pollen onto the pistil. The flower depends on pollinators such as honeybees to fly from flower to flower. The pollen from one flower sticks to the bee. The pollen falls off the bee and, with a little bit of luck, onto the stigma of the next flower. Now, the receiving flower has been pollinated.
- Fertilization is when pollen combines with the egg inside of the pistil. The pollen travels down to the base of the pistil, where the eggs are located. The the pollen and the egg combine. At this point, a seed is made.
Once the seeds have been made, they're often carried away by the wind or rain and get pushed down into the ground until the next spring arrives.
Non-Flowering Plant Reproduction
Non-flowering plants (plants that don't make flowers) can be divided into two groups: those that reproduce with spores and those that use seeds. It's important to keep in mind that many species of non-flowering plants can be both sexual and asexual reproducers - some might create their own seeds and spores, while others might require male and female cells to do so.
Mosses and ferns are the most common plants that reproduce using spores. Spores are small, dust-like, and carried by wind and water to new locations where they can grow. These types of plants do well in shady and moist areas. Ferns, for instance, produce spores underneath their leaves. The spores look like brown spots, and when the leaves dry out, the spores get released into the air.
Conifers are trees, such as pine and fir, that reproduce using their seed-containing cones. Did you know some pine cones are male and some cones are female? The male cones release pollen. If the pollen lands on a female cone, the female cone will produce seeds.
Plant reproduction is the creation of new plants by one or more parent plants. In flowering plants, pollination occurs to pass the pollen on to another flower, where fertilization occurs in the pistil. In non-flowering plants, some produce spores while others produce seeds, and some do so with sexual reproduction while others use asexual reproduction.
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Seed Counting Experiment
In the kitchen, you may consider fruits to be any sweet-tasting part of a plant. In botany, fruits are considered to be the mature product of sexual fertilization of a seed-bearing plant. In flowering plants, the ovary begins to ripen and the ovary wall, called the pericarp, develops into a hard coating (like peanuts) or a fleshy coating (like apples).
You might think that all fruit-producing plants would grow as many seeds as possible to maximize the number of new plants that could grow. However, different plants have different strategies for seed production. Some fruits produce large numbers of seeds to ensure at least a few will grow, others produce one very large, well-protected seed.
Tools & Supplies:
- A few fruits such as avocados or apples
- Cutting board
- Notebook and pen
- Dissect your first fruit using the knife and cutting board, with adult assistance as necessary.
- Remove all seeds and place them on a napkin. Remember that pits count as seeds too!
- Repeat these steps with all of the fruit.
- Count the number of seeds and record information in your lab notebook.
Sample Data Table:
|Type of Fruit||Number of Fruits Counted||Total Number of Seeds Counted||Fruit Productivity (Number of Seeds/Fruit)|
- Are seeds arranged in a certain pattern?
- Fruits are divided into three general groups: (1) simple fruits such as tomatoes (a single or compound ovary with a single pistil); (2) aggregate fruit such as strawberries (a single flower with multiple pistils); and (3) multiple fruit such as pineapples (many flowers in a single inflorescence that develop into a single fruit). Therefore the arrangement of seeds is related to the classification of the fruit.
- Do seeds look similar or different between different fruits?
- One difference that can be easily noted is the difference between a monocot and dicot. Dicot seeds will give rise to two seed leaves, while monocots will give rise to one. A kidney bean is a clear example of a dicot, while corn is a monocot.
- If you planted your seeds, do you think they would all grow? Why or why not?
- A possible extension of this experiment is to plant your harvested seeds and observe what happens! As they sprout you can observe the cotyledons and determine if the plant is a monocot or dicot.
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