Nothing delights us more than the advent of spring after having to endure months of barren winter.
After what felt like an eternity of nothing but an empty, brown landscape, it’s astounding to witness the nature around us transforming to different shades of green once again. Punctuating nature even more is also the fact lots of plants and trees start flowering.
In the area I live in, you cannot look through any direction without your eyes meeting trees and plants exploding in an abundance of white flowers.
These trees are one of the first ones to bloom every spring. That said, as beautiful as they appear, it’s best to ensure you’re never downwind of these Bradford Pear trees.
Well, because they smell downright horrible. Some people have even compared the smell of Bradford Pear trees to that of dead fish. But that’s beside the point.
When these trees started blooming this year, I couldn’t help but wonder, “why are flowers important to plants?” If you’ve taken your time to study nature, you know it makes no mistakes, so regardless of some trees whose flowers might stink, they all must serve a purpose.
Anyway, after visiting a forum of plant lovers, I learned that hundreds of thousands of people around the world have the same question:
Why Are Flowers Important To Plants?
The fact you’re here means you’re wondering the same thing. Lucky for you, after spending hours researching on the internet, I’ve finally come up with a comprehensive list that’ll answer your question.
The primary purpose of flowers to plants is reproduction. Let’s take a small science lesson.
Flowers contain both female and male reproductive organs. Inside these flowers are ovaries, which contain ovules (aka eggs), which are the female sex cell (gamete) of the flowers. Flowers also have a male part, which produces pollen that contains the male gamete.
Now, for the two parts of the flower to come together and reproduce, pollination needs to occur. During pollination, the pollen produced by the anthers is transferred to the flower’s sticky stigma.
Once it gets there, the pollen’s male gamete migrate down through the anther to fertilize the ovule housed within the flower’s ovary.
The ovule that has been fertilized will then grow, divide, and eventually form the seed. That seed will contain everything it needs to create a new plant.
Also worth noting, there are two different types of pollinations, namely, cross-pollination and self-pollination. Self-pollination occurs when the pollen from a flower’s anther is flowered to a stigma either on the same flower or a different flower on the same plant.
Trees and flowers that usually depend on this method of pollination include peas, peaches, tomatoes, sunflowers, and orchids. In fact, because peas can self-pollinate, they were ideal for experiments performed by Gregor Mendel to understand heredity and genetics.
Cross-pollination, on the other hand, occurs when pollen from a flower’s anther is transferred to stigmas of flowers located on an entirely different plant of a similar species. Plants that employ the cross-pollination method to reproduce include tulips, daffodils, dandelions, and grasses.
Regarding how the pollen manages to get from one tree to another, the process relies on either insects or the wind. Have you ever come out of your home and found your deck or car coated by flower pollen? You have the wind to thank for that.
Lots of plants, however, (approximately one-third) rely on insects and other pollinators for pollination to take place. This brings me to the next point.
2. Flowers Attract Pollinators
During the reproductive process, flowers that rely on animals for pollination use their colorful petals to attract pollinators that include insects. Note, though, that these creatures aren’t attracted to the flowers by their colors and automatically become altruistic and choose to help out the flowers.
No. They have to get something in return. Pollinators like birds, moths, butterflies, bees, and even bats usually visit flowers to collect pollen and nectar for food. As they go from one flower to the next, they inadvertently pick the pollen grains and transfer them to other plants of the same species.
What’s more? Not all flowers requiring pollinators to reproduce have vibrant colors, and others have resorted to the use of fragrances to advertise themselves to animals and insects.
According to studies, the method that flowers use to attract pollinators will depend on the kind of pollinator they’re trying to attract.
Flowers that rely on butterflies and bees for pollination will usually have fragrant and bright flowers with nectar guides that direct insects to the middle of the flowers.
On the other hand, flowers that depend on bats or moths for pollination usually boast white flowers and are easier to see at night when their pollinators are active the most.
Scientists have even come across plants that use the promise of a mating mate to lure pollinators.
3. Flowers Help Plant Species Survive
Flowers are the only way some plants get to reproduce and create young ones that are a bit distinct from the parent plants. If a plant remained the same over a long period and conditions changed abruptly (like heat waves or diseases), the species may get wiped out.
However, by plants constantly making new mixes of parent plants from different parts of the world, the plant species are more likely to survive in the event of a disaster.
4. Flowers Can Protect Other Plants In Your Garden
In addition to reproducing, flowers can also selflessly help out other plants. For instance, some flowers can attract insects that are also beneficial for fertilizing other plants in your garden. Better yet, other flowers can keep away any insects that might be harmful to your garden fruits and vegetables.
A great example is lavenders, which are great for repelling whiteflies, moths, and fleas. Four O’Clock flowers planted near vegetable gardens can also kill garden pests like Japanese beetles.
The reason flowers are essential to flowers is evident everywhere in nature. Believe it or not, they do much more than provide lovely scents and beauty. Flowers are one-way trees reproduce, and some will even go out of their way to protect other plants from insects and pests.
Without flowers, plants and trees would merely be green, and the world would be a much duller place.