Parts of a Flower & Their Functions

Updated February 21, 2017

Most plants have flowers. Many are grown specifically for their flamboyant blossoms which add colour to the landscape and brighten table centrepieces. Not all flowers are showy, some go unnoticed and are unrecognized as being flowers. Yet, flowers are not all about beauty, they are responsible for the plants' reproduction.


Most flowers have four parts. They include the calyx, the corolla, the stamens and the pistol. The calyx is the area where the flower's stem and head connects. The corolla is made up of the flower's petals. The flower has both male and female reproductive parts. The stamen is the male part of the flower and the pistol is the female part.


Leaf-like petals called sepals make up the calyx. They might be green, or the same colour as the flower's petals. The corolla, which makes up the flower's petals are often brightly coloured or patterned and can contain fragrant oils, all to help attract birds and insects. The stamens are long fibres that grow in the centre of the flower and produce pollen. The pistol is made up of a style, stigma and ovary. The ovary is located at the bottom of the style, which is a long tube. On top of the style is the stigma.


The first part of a flower to develop is typically the calyx. It helps to protect the developing blossom. The corolla is used to attract the birds and insects to the plant. The visiting creatures, lured to the flower by the colourful petals, will help to carry pollen from one flower to another. Pollen, which contains the sperm, is produced in the stamens, and then released and carried to other flowers by the insects or birds. When it lands on the sticky stigma on the pistol it makes its way down the style to the ovary where it can fertilise the egg.


After the egg is fertilised by the sperm from the pollen it creates a seed. The ovary then grows into a fruit and surrounds the seed. The flower's ovary can contain one or more ovule. Each ovule can contain an egg that can develop into a seed. When a flower has just one ovule the ovary will grow into a fruit that surrounds just one seed. An example of this is a cherry. But, if the ovary contains many ovules the fruit will surround all the seeds, such as in a watermelon.


Some flowers grow in clusters which are referred to as inflorescences. In these types of plants the flowers grow from a single head that grows on the stalk. When looking at the flower it appears to be a single flower, when in reality it is made up of multiple flowers or florets. Each floret looks like a petal, yet each is made up of a corolla, calyx, stamens and a pistol. These types of flowers include daisies, sunflowers and dandelions.

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About the Author

Ann Johnson has been a freelance writer since 1995. She previously served as the editor of a community magazine in Southern California and was also an active real-estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University, Fullerton.