Why do Plants Have Flowers?

Plants have flowers in order to reproduce.  That is the short answer to explain why so many different kinds of plants have different kinds of beautiful flowers.  As with many questions about nature the answer comes down to survival.

blue flax, flowers

Blue Flax

Do All Plants Have Flowers?

No.  First of all, it is important to know that there are many kinds plants that do not have flowers.  These non-flowering plants reproduce in some other way, such as by making spores.  About 80% of all plants worldwide are flowering plants.

Gymnosperm or Angiosperm?

Non-flowering plants are called gymnosperms.  Gymnosperms have naked seeds, which means the seed has no protective coating around it.  Some examples of gymnosperms include liverworts and conifer trees (pine trees).

Flowering plants are called angiosperms.  Angiosperms have their seeds enclosed within something, such as a fruit.

Why Do Plants Have Flowers?

Plants have flowers in order to reproduce, which means creating a new plant from a seed.  Hopefully, after the seed is created it will be spread away from the parent plant, and land in a good spot where it can grow into a new plant.  This means that a plant creating a new seed is similar to an animal having a baby.

Importantly, in order to create a new seed a flower first has to be pollinated.

What is Pollination?

Pollination is the process of moving pollen (which is just tiny cells) from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma of a flower.  If the pollen successfully lands on the female stigma of the same kind of flower, a new seed will grow.

flowers, seedsOftentimes the seed will be located within a fruit, such as a Kiwi, an apple or berry.

How are Flowers Pollinated?

Flowers can be pollinated in a number of different ways, such as by wind, or animals.  Some get pollinated by bees as the bees fly from flower to flower gathering nectar.  In the process of gathering nectar the bees get pollen on their body, which may then fall off on the female stigma of another flower.

flowers

Beautiful Arrowleaf Balsamroot flowers!

Why are Flowers Different Colors and Shapes?

Flowers are so many different colors and bloom at different times of the year in order to give themselves the best chance at being pollinated by their particular pollinator.  Different kinds of animals are attracted to different colors.  For example, red flowers attract hummingbirds to pollinate them.

16968461379_84bed5ea86_zSimilar to how flowers are different colors in order to attract the animal that pollinates them, flowers are shaped in ways that accompany the animal that pollinates them.  For example, flowers that are pollinated by hummingbirds tend to have long tubes that the hummingbirds long bill can fit into.