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Anther of a Flower: Function, Definition & Quiz

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Derrick Arrington

Derrick has taught biology and chemistry at both the high school and college level. He has a master's degree in science education.

Flowers, like all living organisms, must have a way to reproduce. One of the crucial reproductive structures found in all flowers is the anther. In this lesson we will explore the structure and function of the anther to gain an understanding of this important part.

We also recommend watching Flowers: Structure and Function of Male & Female Components and Restriction Enzymes: Function and Definition

What is the Anther of a Flower?

If you look inside a typical flower you will see many small parts. The male reproductive part of a flower is called the stamen. It is composed of a long tube called a filament and has a pollen-producing structure on the end. This oval-shaped structure is called the anther. It is crucial in the reproduction of flowering plants as it produces the male gametophyte known as pollen.

This diagram shows the parts of a flower. You can see the anther at the top of the stamen.
Diagram of the parts of a flower.

Function of the Anther

In order for a plant with flowers to successfully reproduce and form a seed, it must unite male gametophytes known as pollen with the female gametophytes. The anther is the small structure found at the end of the stamen that is responsible for producing the pollen.

To understand the function of an anther we must begin by looking inside of it. If you were able to peek inside of an anther you would see tiny, tube-like structures called microsporangia. Inside these structures the process of meiosis takes place. Meiosis is the biological process that produces sex cells. In the case of humans, the gametes produced as a result of meiosis are sperm and eggs. Inside these microsporangia, the process of meiosis produces pollen grains.

Once the pollen grains are formed, they are moved into one of two tiny sacs inside the anther. When enough pollen grains have been collected and the time is right for the flower to reproduce, the sacs burst open in a process known as dehiscence.

The anthers of this flower are bursting with pollen.
Image of pollen on anthers.

The anthers of a flower are yellow because they contain the pollen, and pollen is yellow in color. You have probably encountered it in springtime - maybe you've had to wash yellow pollen off of your car (once it is blown about by the wind, pollen tends to stick to surfaces). The pollen is dispersed by the wind or by insects or birds that serve as pollinators when they rub against the anthers and collect the pollen as they move from flower to flower. Once the pollen comes into contact with the female part of a flower known as the stigma, the process of fertilization can occur. This process must take place to ensure the survival of the plants.

As this bee rubs against the anthers of this flower it transfers pollen.
Image of a bee pollinating a flower.

Summary

Like all living things, flowering plants must reproduce. The anther is a key structure in the reproduction of flowering plants. It sits atop the filament of the male structure known as the stamen. It produces the male sex cells, stores them, and provides a place for them to stay until the time is right for them to be dispersed.

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