Incomplete Flowers: Examples, Structure & Quiz
Many people assume that all flowers have the same parts. In this lesson we will investigate incomplete flowers. We will see what makes a flower incomplete and look at common examples of them.
Structure of Incomplete Flowers
Structurally, flowers consist of four main parts: sepals, petals, stamens, and pistils. Any flower that does not have one or more of these parts is considered to be an incomplete flower.
Sepals are leaf-like, usually green, and form a circle around the flower stem beneath the petal. They function to enclose and protect the flower while it is developing. Petals are the leaf-like, usually colorful structures arranged in a circle around the top of the flower stem. Their primary function is to attract pollinators for the purpose of reproduction. Stamens are the male reproductive structures of flowers and pistils are the female structures.
Examples of Incomplete Flowers
Any flower missing one or more of those four crucial parts is considered to be incomplete. There are many examples of incomplete flowers, including squash plants, sweet corn, American holly, and most grasses.
You may have grown traditional squash in your summer garden. As the plant grows and prepares to make its fruit it must undergo fertilization. For fertilization to take place, the squash plant must produce a flower. If you closely examine the bright yellow flowers of squash plants, you will notice that some of the flowers have stamens but no pistils and others have pistils but no stamens. This means that some of the flowers on the squash plant are male and some are female. This also makes them classic examples of incomplete flowers because each flower is lacking either the male or female structure.
Sweet corn is another common plant in most gardens. These tall plants that tower over most others in the garden are adapted for wind pollination. This means they do not really have a need for brightly colored flowers to attract pollinators. As a result, the flowers of corn plants do not have petals. This lack of petals means that corn is considered an incomplete flower.
American holly trees are also examples of incomplete flowers because each tree is either male or female. This means that the flowers produced on an entire tree will be lacking either stamens or pistils, making them incomplete flowers.
Grasses are also examples of incomplete flowers. Many people do not know that grass produces any kind of flower at all, but it does. If you look really closely at a grass plant you will see that it produces flowers with stamens and pistils, but lacks both sepals and petals. This makes the grass plant a type of incomplete flower.
Summary of Incomplete Flowers
All traditional flowers are composed of four main parts including the petals, sepals, stamens, and pistils. If any flower is missing one of these parts it is considered to be incomplete. This does not mean that there is something wrong with the flower. It simply means that the plant has adapted to live without one or more of these structures.
Ask Our Experts
Response times may vary by topic.
Our experts can answer your question related to:
- Requirements for Different Careers
- Enrolling in College
- Transferring Credit
- And More…
Did you know …
This lesson is part of a course that helps students earn real college credit accepted by 2,900 colleges.