Male and Female Organs of the Same Flower

January 25, 2017

Male and female organs of the same flower mature at different times (1)

Photographer: Menashe Davidson
Summary Author: Menashe Davidson

An added value to having a garden terrace in my apartment building is being able to observe how plants grow and thrive. Shown above are balloon flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus), one of the more colorful plants in my home garden in Rishon LeZion, Israel. This plant has bisexual flowers: each individual has both male (stamens) and female (carpel) structures. Cross-fertilization is the preferred mode of reproduction among higher plants. However, in plants with bisexual flowers, the part of the flower containing pollen (anthers) and the carpel may mature at different times, which is the case here.

This photomontage was taken on October 26, 2016. The photo at upper left shows three flowers of different ages. The stamen is still immature for the youngest flower shown at upper right, six hours after it first opened. At the bottom right, forty-eight hours later, the stamen, anthers and filament (stalk of the stamen) become stretched out and are now mature. After being opened for 100 hours, bottom left, the pistil (the female reproductive organ) reaches maturity, the stigma (part of the pistil on which pollen is placed) splits into 5 lobes (miniature whitish flower) and is ready to accept pollen from another flower. At this time, the stamen is no longer fertile.