|Flowering plants are plants which produce flowers as their
reproductive structures. They come in a great variety of shapes and sizes and include
grasses, sedges, rushes, many trees, as well as familiar plants like daffodils and
daisies. Flowers often, though not always, have brightly coloured petals. The flowers
conceal inside them the female ovules which will be fertilised by pollen grains. The
pollen grains are the male parts of the flower. Fertilised ovules develop into the seeds
from which new plants will grow.
The fact that
the ovules are protected inside flowers has contributed greatly to the success of
flowering plants. They are found in every kind of habitat from deserts to rivers and even
in the sea.
There are about 250,000 known species. Some
flowering plants are wind pollinated. This means that they rely on wind to carry the
pollen grains from one flower to another. Wind pollinated plants such as grasses and many
trees, including Oak and Birch, usually have inconspicuous, small flowers. Other flowering
plants are pollinated by insects. These plants often have very brightly coloured, highly
scented flowers which may produce sugary nectar. These features attract insects which will
then carry pollen from one flower to another, as they search for hidden nectar.
Some flowering plants have evolved complex
relationships with particular species of pollinating insects.
||Some orchids like the Bee Orchid (left) have evolved
flowers with markings which resemble particular female bee or wasp species. The males of
the insect species are fooled into thinking the flowers are female insects. In their
attempts to mate with the flower, they inadvertently collect pollen on their bodies. This
is then transferred to the next orchid flower which fools the male into thinking it is a
evolutionary adaptation is so sophisticated that some of these orchid species also produce
the right female bee/wasp pheromones and so attract the males by scent as well as sight.