MORPHOLOGY OF FLOWERING PLANTS

NCERT 11TH STANDARD BIOLOGY – MORPHOLOGY OF FLOWERING PLANTS

The wide range in the structure of higher plants will never fail to fascinate us. Even though the angiosperms show such a large diversity in external structure or morphology, they are all characterised by presence of roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruits.

For any successful attempt at classification and at understanding any higher plant (or for that matter any living organism) we need to know standard technical terms and standard definitions. We also need to know about the possible variations in different parts, found as adaptations of the plants to their environment, e.g., adaptions to various habitats, for protection, climbing, storage, etc.

If you pull out any weed you will see that all of them have roots, stems and leaves. They may be bearing flowers and fruits. The underground part of the flowering plant is the root system while the portion above the ground forms the shoot system.

Flowering plants exhibit enormous variation in shape, size, structure, mode of nutrition, life span, habit and habitat. They have well developed root and shoot systems.

Root system is either tap root or fibrous. Generally, dicotyledonous plants have tap roots while monocotyledonous plants have fibrous roots. The roots in some plants get modified for storage of food, mechanical support and respiration. The shoot system is differentiated into stem, leaves, flowers and fruits.

The morphological features of stems like the presence of nodes and internodes, multicellular hair and positively phototropic nature help to differentiate the stems from roots. Stems also get modified to perform diverse functions such as storage of food, vegetative propagation and protection under different conditions. Leaf is a lateral outgrowth of stem developed exogeneously at the node.

These are green in colour to perform the function of photosynthesis. Leaves exhibit marked variations in their shape, size, margin, apex and extent of incisions of leaf blade (lamina).

Like other parts of plants, the leaves also get modified into other structures such as tendrils, spines for climbing and protection respectively. The flower is a modified shoot, meant for sexual reproduction.

The flowers are arranged in different types of inflorescences. They exhibit enormous variation in structure, symmetry, position of ovary in relation to other parts, arrangement of petals, sepals, ovules etc. After fertilisation, the ovary is modified into fruits and ovules into seeds. Seeds either may be monocotyledonous or dicotyledonous.

They vary in shape, size and period of viability. The floral characteristics form the basis of classification and identification of flowering plants. This can be illustrated through semi-technical descriptions of families. Hence, a flowering plant is described in a definite sequence by using scientific terms. The floral features are represented in the summarised form as floral diagrams and floral formula.

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