Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Botany Lesson: Plant Gender

Yes, it is spring, the season of lusty, loud and flirtatious reproduction, in all the kingdoms, Plant, Animal and Human. But today, I'm talking about plant sex.

So maybe we've already heard about the pistils and stamens, and pollen and flowers, and bees and butterflies. But there is more to know that just that. The reproductive organs of plants are varied and unique. Using a few species that live just down the road from I'll illustrate.

There are two terms to know when out looking at plants and determining their sex. Monoecious and diecious.
Monoeicious- derived from the greek, meaning "one household" indicates plants that have both male and female reproductive parts on one individual plant. You see this alder tree below is a monoecious plant, the male catkins which produce pollen, and the female cones which house the future seeds of the plant are both on the same plant.

The second category, dieicious, are plants that have male and female reproductive parts on separate individuals, like these cottonwood trees. The bright red, large, and far more prolific catkins are the males, on male trees and produce copious amounts of yellow pollen. The smaller, green, and later blooming catkins are the female flowers of the cottonwood plant.

2 comments:

The Plant Whisperer said...

Awesome Post!! I find botany almost as addicting as herbalism - it's endlessly fascinating.

irene said...

Thanks for this post...the photos are lovely and so helpful to learn about monoeicious and diecious plants.

"The mother of us all, the oldest of us all, Hard, splendid as rock, Let the beauty you love, be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth"~ Rumi ~