Pollination Lesson for Kids: Definition & Process

Instructor: Emily Lockhart

Emily has taught science and has a master's degree in education.

Without pollination, many of the flowers, fruits and vegetables we love would be unable to reproduce. In this lesson, we will look at how pollination occurs and why it is so important.

Growing Up with Pollination

Ahh.. summertime. Picnicking with friends, drinking lemonade, eating watermelon and watching the bees and butterflies go from one flower to the next as they eat the sweet nectar from the flower. But, while the flowers are providing the bees and butterflies food, the bees and butterflies are also helping the flowers to be able to make seeds and grow new plants and, as such, they are a very important part of the pollination process. Pollination is the process through which seeds are created to make another plant. Let's take a closer look at this process.

Why Do Plants Have Pollen?

Pollen, found in many plants, is the male part of a plant. In many flowers, there is a big stem called a stamen and at the top of the stamen sits the pollen. Pollen carries incomplete instructions on how to make another plant. When a pollinator, any living thing that lands on a plant and carries parts of one plant to another plant - like our bees and butterflies, lands on a plant to eat, it accidentally picks up the pollen from that plant. When it then flies to the next plant to eat, if that plant is from the same family as the first plant, it is a match, and the pollen will combine with the incomplete instructions carried in the female part, called the ovules, which are held in the ovary of a plant. The union of the pollen with the ovules makes a fertilized seed that now has complete instructions to make another plant - and this is pollination!

Pollinator landing on pollen, and details of the ovules

Pollination can occur without pollinators as well. Wind or water can carry the pollen from flower to flower. You might be allergic to pollen in the air, and if you breathe it you'll sneeze, blowing the pollen out and possibly being a pollinator yourself. Regardless of how the pollen travels, the destination is always the same - to get to the matching ovules.

When a pollinator carries pollen from one plant to another, from a red sunflower to a yellow sunflower, this is called cross-pollination, and can grow a new, very colorful sunflower. However, pollen on a plant can even match to an ovule on the same plant. This is called self-pollination and the seed produced will be identical to the plant it came from.

Image of self-pollination

Why Do Plants Have Seeds?

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