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General Stages in the Lifecycle of Flowering Plants

1. Flowering plants grow from seeds. Seeds contain a tiny embryo plant, together with stored food reserves. The seed is surrounded by a tough coat which protects it. In Britain, seeds vary in size from the size of a grain of salt (Heather, Foxglove) to a large marble (Horse Chestnut). The bigger the seed, the more food reserves it contains.

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(Left) Some plants use insects, such as this fly, to transfer the pollen from one flower to another (pollination). In other flowers, the wind blows the pollen between flowers.
6. (Above) Pollen grains from the anthers must get onto the stigma of (usually) another flower. When the pollen lands on a stigma of a flower of the same kind, it will grow a tube down into the ovary and fertilize an ovule inside. This will then grow and form a seed.   NEXT

2. Different kinds of plants produce different kinds of seeds. The seeds are often carried to new places away from the parent plant. Some may be blown by the wind, others may be carried by water and others by birds or  other animals.

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5. Once plants are adult, they can begin to produce flowers. This may take only a few weeks for plants such as grasses, or many years for plants such as Oak trees. Flowers contain male and female parts. In most plants, these are both together in the same flowers. However, in some, they are in separate flowers on the same plant (Hazel). Some species may have separate male and female plants (Holly).
3. When a seed arrives in a suitable habitat, it may immediately start to grow (germinate). Some seeds however, need to remain dormant for some time before they will germinate.

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wpe70.jpg (8709 bytes) 4. The first two leaves of a seedling often look different to the adult leaves. They are green and as soon as they open in the light, the little seedling can begin to make its own food. It then no longer needs to use the food reserves in the seed. The seedling makes its own food using water, carbon dioxide from air and light, in a process known as photosynthesis.