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32.1: Plant Reproductive Development and Structure - Plant Reproductive Development and Structure

  • Page ID
    • Boundless
    • Boundless
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    Learning Objectives
    • Differentiate among the ways in which plants reproduce


    Plants have evolved different reproductive strategies for the continuation of their species. Some plants reproduce sexually while others reproduce asexually, in contrast to animal species, which rely almost exclusively on sexual reproduction. Plant sexual reproduction usually depends on pollinating agents, while asexual reproduction is independent of these agents. Flowers are often the showiest or most strongly-scented part of plants. With their bright colors, fragrances, and interesting shapes and sizes, flowers attract insects, birds, and animals to serve their pollination needs. Other plants pollinate via wind or water; still others self-pollinate.

    Asexual Reproduction

    Vegetative reproduction is a type of asexual reproduction. Other terms that apply are vegetative propagation, clonal growth, or vegetative multiplication. Vegetative growth is enlargement of the individual plant, while vegetative reproduction is any process that results in new plant “individuals” without production of seeds or spores. It is both a natural process in many, many species as well as a process utilized or encouraged by horticulturists and farmers to obtain quantities of economically-valuable plants. In this respect, it is a form of cloning that has been carried out by humanity for thousands of years and by plants for hundreds of millions of years.

    Sexual Reproduction and The Flower

    The flower is the reproductive organ of plants classified as angiosperms. All plants have the means and corresponding structures for reproducing sexually. The basic function of a flower is to produce seeds through sexual reproduction. Seeds are the next generation, serving as the primary method in most plants by which individuals of the species are dispersed across the landscape. Actual dispersal is, in most species, a function of the fruit (a structural part that typically surrounds the seed).

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Plants and sexual reproduction: Plants that reproduce sexually often achieve fertilization with the help of pollinators such as (a) bees, (b) birds, and (c) butterflies.

    Key Points

    • Vegetative reproduction is a type of asexual reproduction that results in new plant individuals without seed or spore production.
    • Vegetative reproduction is also utilized by horticulturists to ensure production of large quantities of valuable plants.
    • Plants have flowers that produce seeds through sexual reproduction; seeds are dispersed to increase propagation of the next generation.
    • Seeds are often dispersed by animals via ingestion of the fruits, which surround the seeds, promoting seed dispersal.

    Key Terms

    • vegetative reproduction: a form of asexual reproduction in plants

    This page titled 32.1: Plant Reproductive Development and Structure - Plant Reproductive Development and Structure is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Boundless.