Learning about methods of plant reproduction is useful information for anyone that enjoys or eats plants (that’s everyone!) Read more to learn about how plants reproduce.
Sexual and Asexual Reproduction
One of the most interesting facts of plant reproduction is that there are two different kinds: sexual and asexual. Sexual reproduction in plants involves the processes of meiosis and gamete fusion and it results in the production of offspring that are genetically different from the parents. Asexual reproduction, on the other hand, does not involve the fusion of gametes and, as a result, the offspring contain the same genes as the parents. There are two different types of asexual reproduction: vegetative reproduction and apoximis. While apoximis often requires the generation of seeds, vegetative reproduction involves the growth of a new individual from the original plant.
Methods of Fertilization in Plants
Because plants do not have the ability to move they must rely on external factors to facilitate fertilization. The earliest plants were primarily aquatic and could rely on water to transport sperm from one plant to another. Today most plants utilize spores or seeds to facilitate reproduction. In seed-producing plants, the male gametes are housed in pollen grains which are most often transported to the female reproductive organs by insects which travel from one plant to another. Ferns are one of the most widely-recognized varieties of sporophytes - plants that use spores rather than seeds to reproduce. These spores germinate and produce gametophytes, which contain both sperm and eggs, and are transported by water droplets during and after a rainfall.
Reproduction in Flowering Plants
Flowering plants are capable of reproducing by both sexual and asexual means. Unlike other plants, flowering plants have visible sexual organs called flowers, which facilitate the production and dispersal of seeds and pollen. Reproduction in flowering plants begins with the process of pollination during which the male gametes are transferred to the female ovules. Following pollination, fertilization involves the growth of the pollinated ovules into seeds. As the seeds develop within the fruit of the flower, the fruit ripens and the seeds are freed from the fruit to be dispersed and allowed to germinate then grow into a new generation of plants.
There are four parts which compose any flowering plant - the sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels. The stamens and the carpels are the only parts which have a “sex” and are able to produce gametes. The stamen is the “male” organ which looks like a thin stalk and an anther in which the process of meiosis occurs to produce pollen grains. The carpels (also called pistils), or “female” organs, are located at the very center of the flower and they contain the ovules which house the female gametophytes and which, following pollination, develop into a seed. The petals of a flowering plant are thin and flat; arranged around the carpels and stamens and the sepals are the outermost parts of the floral shoot which protect the reproductive parts of the flower while it is in the bud stage.
There are many interesting facts of plant reproduction including all the various methods of pollination and differences between sexual and asexual reproduction in plants. While it is not so obvious what is the process for plant reproduction as the methods of reproduction in animals, it is still an interesting and unique phenomenon.
Prairie Grass photo by Flickr user Oakland Originals
Fern Spores photo by Flickr user Pfly
Hibiscus Stamen photo by Flickr user Tambako the Jaguar
Hibiscus Pistil photo by Flickr user Horia Varlan
“Plant Reproduction,” Michigan State University Website, www.agriscience.msu.edu/2000/2010.../2022plantreproduction.ppt