Introduction to Reproductive Development and Structure

Discuss the reproductive development and structure of plants

Plants have evolved different reproductive strategies for the continuation of their species. Some plants reproduce sexually, and others 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.

 Photo A shows a bee drinking nectar from a flower wide, flat purple flower. Photo B shows a hummingbird drinking nectar from a long, tube-shaped red flower. Photo C shows a butterfly drinking nectar from a flat, wide orange flower.

Figure 1. Plants that reproduce sexually often achieve fertilization with the help of pollinators such as (a) bees, (b) birds, and (c) butterflies. (credit a: modification of work by John Severns; credit b: modification of work by Charles J. Sharp; credit c: modification of work by “Galawebdesign”/Flickr)

What You’ll Learn to Do

  • Describe the two stages of a plant’s lifecycle
  • Describe the components of a complete flower
  • Identify the structures involved in reproduction of angiosperms
  • Identify the structures involved in reproduction of gymnosperms

Learning Activities

The learning activities for this section include the following:

  • Stages of a Plant’s Life Cycle
  • Flower Structure
  • Sexual Reproduction in Angiosperms
  • Sexual Reproduction in Gymnosperms
  • Angiosperms versus Gymnosperms
  • Self Check: Reproductive Development and Structure