Yesterday, I wandered through flowers and ferns with the new camera in hand. While the kids splashed in the natural pool belonging to members of our church with Josh, I got lost in petals, pistils, anthers, stamens, and stigmas (plant parts). Nothing like a little plant anatomy, eh?
Part of gardening is recognizing that you are now completely outnumbered by an alien being who you know really very little about. Plants: 4000; Human: 1. Yes, I know what you are thinking: I’ve been gardening like a rockstar without dissecting the plant life. But haven’t you ever wondered what you missed while sleeping through Plant Biology 101?
Well, never fear. I’m here to help. Let’s start with the flowers:
Anthers (from the Ancient Greek anthera, feminine of antheros “flowery,” from anthos “flower”) do some pretty spectacular work. When they open, pollen is then free to be carried by any of the forces represented by Captain Planet’s Planeteers. Okay… not Fire or Earth but Wind and Water for sure. A creature from the animal kingdom might also help to spread the pollen (think: bees).
Not Stedman… stamen. Stamens actually produce the pollen that the anthers are putting out there to be spread around. These stamens usually hang in groups of six (for typical flowers) which, I think, means that they have the perfect number of players for half-court basketball. In some cases, there are more than six stamens (ex: tree flowers) and in other cases there appears to be only one because they are fused together in a column (ex: orchids). The stamens that make up an orchid’s column are very secure in their masculinity. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
The pistil is considered the female reproductive organ of the flower. This darling debutant is made up of the stigma, style, and ovary (What a babe!). This is where Lili Von Shtupp of Blazing Saddles would say, “Oh, it’s twue! It’s twue!” Just so you know (and you may not giggle), the stigma receives the pollen, the style is the stalk which connects the stigma with the ovary. My, my… Betty Friedan would have gone crazy in Plant Anatomy 101, I tell you. (Raise your hand if you didn’t giggle.)
We’re talking about the corolla… the group of petals which attract insects and humans alike. These gorgeous petals are the stiletto pumps worn by the flower to increase the flower’s appeal. And it works, too. You just can’t argue with results.
I was always told that once you painted a tree or flower… that you would never look at them the same way again. Hopefully, you’ll look at the flowers around you that way after today’s post. Next time: ferns. It’s great to learn, ’cause knowledge is power, right?
And now for some Phytotomy: