Pollination Process: Male & Female Flower Components

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  • 0:00 What Is Pollination?
  • 0:45 The Pollination Process
  • 1:52 Forms of Pollination
  • 4:19 Flowers Adapt to Their…
  • 5:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jayne Yenko

Jayne has taught health/nutrition and education at the college level and has a master's degree in education.

In this lesson, we'll learn about the pollination process and the components in plants that make this possible. We'll also learn about the various forms of pollination and how they work.

What Is Pollination?

Have you ever noticed hummingbirds going from flower to flower and wondered what they were doing? The hummingbird is getting nectar, a high energy drink flowers use to attract hummingbirds. 'Very kind of the flowers,' you might say. What's the catch?

By attracting birds and insects, the flower is making sure that its pollen gets taken to other flowers. If you've ever seen a bee close-up when it's visiting flowers, you might have noticed that the legs are covered with yellow grains of pollen. Pollination is the process in which pollen is transferred from the male part of a plant to the female part of a plant. The plant needs pollination in order to make seeds and reproduce. So, how does it work?

The Pollination Process

The male and female parts of a plant are the key elements in pollination. The male parts include the anther and filament, which together are called the stamen. The stamen produces the pollen. The female parts are the stigma, the style, and the ovary at the base of the flower, which together are called the carpel.

Diagram of male and female flower components

During pollination, the pollen grains from the stamen (male parts) get stuck on the stigma (female part), which is sticky for this very reason. A pollen tube grows down the side of the style and transports the male sperm nuclei to the ovule. Fertilization occurs when the nuclei fuses with the female ovules in the ovary of the flower. These ovules develop into seeds, and the ovary develops into fruit to protect the seed. In some plants, only one seed develops, such as an avocado or a peach. In others, lots and lots of seeds are developed, like in tomatoes.

When we think of pollination, we might just think of bees visiting flower after flower. But, bees aren't the only way flowers are pollinated. Let's look at some of the other ways this can happen.

Forms of Pollination

Some plants have both male and female parts on the same plant. This is where a plant pollinates itself, and it is called self-pollination. There are three ways a plant can self-pollinate:

  • The pollen moves to the female parts of the same flower
  • The pollen is transferred to another flower on the same plant
  • The plant self-pollinates before the flower opens and the flower may not open at all

Self-pollination ensures reproduction, or survival, of the species even if nothing else is available to assist in the process, such as bees or wind. Because a seed from a self-pollinated flower is an exact copy of its parent, self-pollination can reduce genetic diversity and decrease the health of a population.

Most pollinating plants cross-pollinate, or move pollen from one flower to the flower of a different plant of the same species. The pollination process itself is the same, but the manner of pollen transport is different. The majority of pollination is performed by biotic (living) pollination, where living things assist in transporting the pollen from one plant to another. The pollinator is the mover of pollen. Only 20 percent of plant pollination is by abiotic (nonliving), methods such as wind or water.

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