Flower Sepals: Function, Definition & Quiz

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Instructor: 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 are made of many smaller parts, ranging from petal to stem. In this lesson you will learn about the sepals of a flower and then test your knowledge with a quiz.

We also recommend watching Flowers: Structure and Function of Male & Female Components and What is Function Notation: Definition, Examples & Quiz

Definition of Flower Sepals

You've likely seen a flower before, whether as part of a bouquet or growing wild in a field. But have you ever looked really closely at a flower? If you did, you would see that a flower is made up of many parts. One of these parts is the sepals.

Sepals are modified leaves that form the outer whorl of a flower. They are typically green but can be other colors. Flowers have different numbers of sepals depending on the species. Collectively, the sepals are referred to by botanist as the calyx of the flower.

The sepals of this flower come in a variety of colors other than green.
Fuschia flower image.

Sepals are attached directly to the top of the stem of the flowering plant. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some sepals are long and thin while others are short and thick. Some sepals are individualized while others are fused together to make a cup formation around the petals of the flower.

This image shows that the petals form inside the sepals of a flower.
Image of flower petals and sepals.

Function of Flower Sepals

When a plant is ready to produce a flower, the first step is the formation of sepals. Sepals grow out from the top of the stem. The sepals form a tightly closed area, often referred to as a bud. Inside the bud a flower forms. This includes the petals of the flower as well as all the reproductive parts such as stamens and pistils. During this time of formation the sepals form a protective enclosure for the flower and keep it from drying out.

Sepals form a tightly closed bud to protect developing flowers until they are ready to open.
An image of flower buds.

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