THE INFLORESCENCE AND THE FLOWER

NCERT 11TH STANDARD BIOLOGY – THE INFLORESCENCE AND THE FLOWER

THE INFLORESCENCE

A flower is a modified shoot wherein the shoot apical meristem changes to floral meristem. Internodes do not elongate and the axis gets condensed. The apex produces different kinds of floral appendages laterally at successive nodes instead of leaves. When a shoot tip transforms into a flower, it is always solitary.

The arrangement of flowers on the floral axis is termed as inflorescence. Depending on whether the apex gets developed into a flower or continues to grow, two major types of inflorescences are defined – racemose and cymose. In racemose type of inflorescences the main axis continues to grow, the flowers are borne laterally in an acropetal succession.

In cymose type of inflorescence the main axis terminates in a flower, hence is limited in growth. The flowers are borne in a basipetal order.

THE FLOWER

The flower is the reproductive unit in the angiosperms. It is meant for sexual reproduction. A typical flower has four different kinds of whorls arranged successively on the swollen end of the stalk or pedicel, called thalamus or receptacle.

These are calyx, corolla, androecium and gynoecium. Calyx and corolla are accessory organs, while androecium and gynoecium are reproductive organs. In some flowers like lily, the calyx and corolla are not distinct and are termed as perianth.

 When a flower has both androecium and gynoecium, it is bisexual. A flower having either only stamens or only carpels is unisexual. In symmetry, the flower may be actinomorphic (radial symmetry) or zygomorphic (bilateral symmetry). When a flower can be divided into two equal radial halves in any radial plane passing through the centre, it is said to be actinomorphic, e.g., mustard, datura, chilli.

When it can be divided into two similar halves only in one particular vertical plane, it is zygomorphic, e.g., pea, gulmohur, bean, Cassia. A flower is asymmetric (irregular) if it cannot be divided into two similar halves by any vertical plane passing through the centre, as in canna.

A flower may be trimerous, tetramerous or pentamerous when the floral appendages are in multiple of 3, 4 or 5, respectively. Flowers with bracts-reduced leaf found at the base of the pedicel- are called bracteate and those without bracts, ebracteate.

Based on the position of calyx, corolla and androecium in respect of the ovary on thalamus, the flowers are described as hypogynous, perigynous and epigynous. In the hypogynous flower the gynoecium occupies the highest position while the other parts are situated below it. The ovary in such flowers is said to be superior, e.g., mustard, china rose and brinjal.

If gynoecium is situated in the centre and other parts of the flower are located on the rim of the thalamus almost at the same level, it is called perigynous. The ovary here is said to be half inferior, e.g., plum, rose, peach. In epigynous flowers, the margin of thalamus grows upward enclosing the ovary completely and getting fused with it, the other parts of flower arise above the ovary. Hence, the ovary is said to be inferior as in flowers of guava and cucumber, and the ray florets of sunflower.

Parts of a Flower

Each flower normally has four floral whorls, viz., calyx, corolla, androecium and gynoecium

Calyx

The calyx is the outermost whorl of the flower and the members are called sepals. Generally, sepals are green, leaf like and protect the flower in the bud stage. The calyx may be gamosepalous (sepals united) or polysepalous (sepals free).

Corolla

Corolla is composed of petals. Petals are usually brightly coloured to attract insects for pollination. Like calyx, corolla may also be gamopetalous (petals united) or polypetalous (petals free). The shape and colour of corolla vary greatly in plants. Corolla may be tubular, bellshaped, funnel-shaped or wheel-shaped.

Aestivation: The mode of arrangement of sepals or petals in floral bud with respect to the other members of the same whorl is known as aestivation. The main types of aestivation are valvate,  twisted, imbricate and vexillary .

When sepals or petals in a whorl just touch one another at the margin, without overlapping, as in Calotropis, it is said to be valvate. If one margin of the appendage overlaps that of the next one and so on as in china rose, lady’s finger and cotton, it is called twisted.

If the margins of sepals or petals overlap one another but not in any particular   direction as in Cassia and gulmohur, the aestivation is called imbricate. In pea and bean flowers, there are five petals, the largest (standard) overlaps the two lateral petals (wings) which in turn overlap the two smallest anterior petals (keel); this type of aestivation is known as vexillary or papilionaceous.

Androecium

Androecium is composed of stamens. Each stamen which represents the male reproductive organ consists of a stalk or a filament and an anther. Each anther is usually bilobed and each lobe has two chambers, the pollen-sacs. The pollen grains are produced in pollen-sacs.

A sterile stamen is called staminode. Stamens of flower may be united with other members such as petals or among  themselves. When stamens are attached to the petals, they are epipetalous as in brinjal, or epiphyllous when attached to the perianth as in the flowers of lily. The stamens in a flower may either remain free (polyandrous) or may be united in varying degrees.

The stamens may be united into one bunch or one bundle (monoadelphous) as in china rose, or two bundles (diadelphous) as in pea, or into more than two bundles (polyadelphous) as in citrus. There may be a variation in the length of filaments within a flower, as in Salvia and mustard.

Gynoecium

Gynoecium is the female reproductive part of the flower and is made up of one or more carpels. A carpel consists of three parts namely stigma, style and ovary. Ovary is the enlarged basal part, on which lies the elongated tube, the style.

The style connects the ovary to the stigma. The stigma is usually at the tip of the style and is the receptive surface for pollen grains. Each ovary bears one or more ovules attached to a flattened, cushion-like placenta. When more than one carpel is present, they may be free (as in lotus and rose) and are called apocarpous. They are termed syncarpous when carpels are fused, as in mustard and tomato. After fertilisation, the ovules develop into seeds and the ovary matures into a fruit.

Placentation: The arrangement of ovules within the ovary is known as placentation. The placentation are of different types namely, marginal, axile, parietal, basal, central and free central. In marginal placentation the placenta forms a ridge along the ventral suture of the ovary and the ovules are borne on this ridge forming two rows, as in pea.

When the placenta is axial and the ovules are attached to it in a multilocular ovary, the placentaion is said to be axile, as in china rose, tomato and lemon. In parietal placentation, the ovules develop on the inner wall of the ovary or on peripheral part. Ovary is one-chambered but it becomes two chambered due to the formation of the false septum, e.g., mustard and Argemone.

When the ovules are borne on central axis and septa are absent, as in Dianthus and Primrose the placentation is called free central. In basal placentation, the placenta develops at the base of ovary and a single ovule is attached to it, as in sunflower, marigold.

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