What Is Function of the Pistil in Flowers?

By Ann Johnson

  • Overview

    What Is Function of the Pistil in Flowers?
    The petals of a flower make up what is called the corolla. A flower's petals are usually brightly colored to help attract birds and insects to the flower. These visitors are needed to help assist the flower in pollination. From the pollination process more seeds will develop and grow, and from those seeds will come new flowers.
  • Identification

    A typical flower has four primary parts. They are the corolla, the stamens, the calyx and the pistils. The pistils are the seed-bearing part of the flower, also referred to as the flower's female part. Some flowers, such as those in the pea family, have just one pistil. Most flowers have two or more pistils. In some flowers the multiple pistils are fused together, creating one pistil that is called a compound pistil.
  • Features

    The individual pistils that make up a compound pistil are called carpels. Most pistils have three parts; a stigma, a style and an ovary. The ovary, which is located at the base of the pistil, has one or more structures called ovules. The stigma is a sticky area located at the top of the pistil. The style is a thin tube that leads from the stigma to the ovary.

  • Function

    When a grain of pollen lands on the sticky stigma, it can grow into a pollen tube. This tube pushes down the style, moving towards the ovary. The sperm from the pollen makes its way to the ovule within the ovary. When the sperm unites with an egg cell in the ovule, fertilization begins. A seed begins to form from this union. The ovary will develop into a fruit that surrounds the seed.
  • Size

    The amount of seeds that develop will depend on the number of ovules in the ovary. If the plant has just one ovule, the fruit will develop around just one seed. One example of this is the cherry or acorn. If the ovary has many ovules, the fruit will develop around many seeds, such as in the watermelon.
  • Significance

    The male part of the plant is the stamen; this is the part of the flower that produces the pollen that will land on the sticky stigma, before making its way down the narrow tube to the ovaries. Birds, bees, butterflies, moths and other insects help to carry the pollen from one flower's stigma to another flower's pistil. This process is known as pollination.
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