Flowers and Fertilization
Reproduction is the process of making a copy of something. Human reproduction involves making a copy of a person. Humans create copies through sexual reproduction. Plants also reproduce, but they do not reproduce in the same way as animals. When plants reproduce, the process begins with pollination and the result is fertilization and new plants.
When the saying 'the birds and the bees' is used, it is the process of plant reproduction called pollination. Birds, bees, and the wind are necessary for most plant reproduction. Flowering plants make copies of themselves by making seeds. The seed is the embryo of a plant. Inside the seed of a plant is everything that is needed to make a new plant. The tiny seed, if taken care of and nurtured, will grow into a plant like its parents. It is the same species of the parent plant, but it is not an exact copy. It will have a mix of the genetic code, half from each parent.
Only flowers from the same species of a plant can produce seeds. The seeds are produced within certain parts of a flower through pollination and fertilization. Sometimes people confuse the two terms. Pollination is the process that leads to fertilization. Fertilization occurs when the egg cells (female) of a flowering plant receive the pollen (male) from another flower. Pollination and fertilization are simple processes that take place wherever flowering plants exist.
Flowers are the reproductive organs of the flowering plant. Since plants cannot move from one place to another place, they must rely on the movement of bees, butterflies, birds, and other methods for reproduction. The steps of the pollination process begin when pollen, the male sex cells of a plant, is discharged from the male part of a flower, the stamen. It is a fine, yellow, powdery substance. When it is in the air, it can cause allergic reactions for many people.
The first step of pollination begins when the colorful petals of a flower and the scent of the nectar attract insects such as bees and butterflies (called pollinators) to the flower. Next, The bees or other insects accidentally land on the male part of the flower, the stamen. Third, While on the stamen, tiny grains of pollen from the anthers of the flower stick to the insect's bodies. The insect's purpose is to feed on the nectar of the flower.
During the fourth step, the insect then travels to another flower of the same species and accidentally lands on the stigma, top of the pistil (the female part of the flower) where the pollen is released. Following the release of the pollen, the ovules (eggs) in the ovary, the bottom of the style, wait to be fertilized by the pollen as it travels downward through the style to the ovary. Finally, it is in the ovary where fertilization takes place and a new seed is produced.
When the fertilized eggs turn into seeds, it is called seed production. Once the seeds are produced, they are scattered throughout the area through seed dispersal. The seeds can simply fall onto the ground and then carried by animals or water to another area. In some plants, the fruit can 'explode' forcing the seeds into other nearby areas. Wind can also scatter seed throughout an area.
Besides bees and other insects, pollinators may include birds, bats, ants and the wind. Pollination occurs naturally, and it is important to the lifecycle of plants. There are two types of pollination, both result in the fertilization of the ovary. Cross-pollination takes place as explained above when a pollinator moves pollen from one flower to another flower. Self-pollination takes place when pollen is transferred from the stamen of a flower to the same flower's pistil.
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