Incomplete Flowers: Examples, Structure & Quiz

  • Lesson
  • Quiz
  • Like?
Taught by

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.

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.

We also recommend watching Flowers: Structure and Function of Male & Female Components and Structure in Literature: Definition & Examples

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.

This image allows us to visualize the sepals, petals, stamen, and pistil of a flower.
Image of a flower

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.

This female squash flower is considered incomplete because it does not have stamens.
Picture of a squash flower.

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.

Unlock Content Over 8,500 lessons in all major subjects

Get FREE access for 5 days,
just create an account.

Start a FREE trial

No obligation, cancel anytime.

Want to learn more?

Select a subject to preview related courses:

Start your free trial to take this quiz
As a premium member, you can take this quiz and also access over 8,500 fun and engaging lessons in math, English, science, history, and more. Get access today with a FREE trial!
Free 5-day trial
It only takes a minute to get started. You can cancel at any time.
Already registered? Login here for access.

  • Science Courses
  • Supplemental Lessons
  • Popular Articles

Search Our Courses

Did you like this?
Yes No

Thanks for your feedback!

What didn't you like?

What didn't you like?

Education Portal Video Lessons

The smarter way to study Short videos, Real results
  • More affordable than tutoring
  • All major high school and college subjects
  • Unlimited access to all 8,500+ video Lessons
  • Study on your own schedule
Try it Free