Flower pollination biology lesson for kids: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th grades biology lesson.
Did you know that plants can be male and female? It’s true. The reproductive organs of flowering plants are, believe it or not, their flowers. The process of moving pollen grains from male parts to female parts is called pollination. But how exactly does that work?
The male part of a flower is called the stamen, and the female part is called the pistil. Some plant species produce flowers with both stamens and pistils. Others produce flowers that each have either a stamen or a pistil, but with both types of flowers on the same plants. Yet other species only produce one type of flower on each plant. That means you could have either a male or female of the species growing in your yard!
Whatever the case, the stamen (the male part) produces pollen grains in a part of the stamen called the anther. Pollen grains are very small, and each one contains a single male cell that has to make it to the female part of a flower in order for pollination to happen.
Plants have different strategies for this. The most well-known way is through pollinators, animals that move the pollen around. Flowers that use this method produce nectar, a tasty food that these plants like. As these animals (like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds) move from flower to flower, pollen from the anthers sticks to their bodies, and then get transferred to the stigma, which is part of the female part of the flower.
Animals aren’t the only way that plants transfer pollen from anther to stigma, though. Some rely on wind, and others rely on water. Whichever way the plants use will impact how the flowers look, and even how the pollen is packaged. Flowers with animal pollinators have brightly colored petals to attract the animals. Flowers that rely on wind or water may not be as pretty, but will have shapes that allow the wind to easily pick up the pollen and scatter them around.
However the plants get the job done, it is important that the pollen moves from the anther to the stigma of the same species. If this doesn’t happen, pollination cannot take place. When the same plant’s pollen gets to its own stigma, this is called self-pollination. This can only happen if the plant either has both male and female flowers, or if it has flowers with both male and female parts. Cross-pollination is when the pollen of one plant pollinates another plant. This can happen even if a plant has both male and female flowers or flowers with both parts, but if a plant only has one either male or female flowers, it can only cross-pollinate.
Once pollination happens, the pollen releases its male cell into the female part of the plant, and the male and female genes combine into a new plant. The flower starts changing into a fruit, and which has seeds formed from the genetic material of both parents.
And within each seed is a brand-new baby plant, ready to find a place to grow and eventually make flowers of its own!