Brightly colored petals, strong smell, nectar, and pollen attract pollinators. Flowers are specially adapted to attract their specific pollinators. For example, the corpse flower smells like rotting flesh in order to attract flies. Pollen sticks to the legs and wings of insects that go from flower to flower for nectar and pollen, which they use as a food. Pollen sticks to the fur of animals and even to the clothes of humans. Wind blows pollen which lands on other flowers.
Seed spreading, or dispersal, is the final stage of the flower life cycle. Seeds are spread in many ways. Some, like dandelion seeds, are scattered by the wind. Others rely on animals-an example of this is the cockleburs that get stuck in the fur of animals and hitchhike to new locations. Water lilies depend on water to spread their seeds. Humans spread many seeds intentionally by planting gardens. Once the seeds fall to the ground, the plant life cycle starts all over again.
Some flowers have only male parts, and some have only female parts. In others, the male and female structures are far apart. These plants depend on insects, birds, animals, wind, water, or other pollinators to carry pollen from the male flowers or male parts to the female flowers or female parts. Without pollinators, there would be no seeds or new plants in these plant species. . Even flowers that can self-pollinate benefit from being fertilized by pollen from a different plant, which is called cross pollination, because cross pollination results in stronger plants.
The plant life cycle starts when a seed falls on the ground. There are many different kinds of plant life, but the flowering plants, or angiosperms, are the most advanced and widespread due to their amazing ability to attract pollinators and spread seeds. Flowers are more than beautiful objects to look at or decorate with; they serve a very important purpose in the reproduction of plants. The major stages of the flower life cycle are the seed, germination, growth, reproduction, pollination, and seed spreading stages.
When a seed falls on the ground, it needs warmth and water in order to germinate; some seeds also need light. Dicots have seed coats that soften with moisture. After being planted in the soil for a few days, the seed absorbs water and swells until the seed coat splits. Monocots have harder seed coats that do not split, but stay in one piece. The stem, called the hypocotyl, pushes through the soil along with the cotyledons, or seed leaves; this is called germination, or sprouting. The tiny root pushes down and grows, looking for water and nutrients. Soon the cotyledons fall off and the first true leaves emerge. It is important that the seed is planted in the right place at the right time in order for it to germinate. Some seeds need to go through a fire in order to sprout, such as prairie grasses. Some need to go through the stomachs of animals, or be scraped. Different seeds have different needs!
Learn about all of the different stages in the growth cycle of a flower, from seed to bloom and beyond.