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Ovary of a Flower: Function, Definition & Quiz

Instructor: Angela Lynn Swafford

Lynn has a BS and MS in biology and has taught many college biology courses.

Human females have ovaries that are necessary for reproduction, but did you know that flowers also have ovaries? You can learn about the function of flower ovaries in this lesson.

We also recommend watching Hormones of the Testes and Ovaries: Functions & Anatomical Features and Flowers: Structure and Function of Male & Female Components

Definition

A flower is the reproductive structure of some plants. It usually has four main parts:

  1. Carpel: Female reproductive structure that produces eggs.
  2. Stamen: Male reproductive structure that produces sperm cells.
  3. Petals: Surround the carpel and stamen and are often brightly colored.
  4. Sepals: Surround the flower petals before it has opened.

Let's just focus on the carpel. A flower can have one carpel, many separate carpels, or many fused carpels. No matter the arrangement, a carpel always has a platform for receiving pollen called the stigma. Extending down from the stigma is a tube called the style. Below the style is an enlarged area called the ovary. The ovary is where a new plant begins to form.

The Major Parts of a Flower
Flower Parts

Ovary Structure

Inside an ovary is one chamber, or locule; however, if there are many locules in a single ovary, this indicates that many carpels have been fused together. A locule houses one or more ovules. The placenta attaches an ovule to the ovary wall.

The Parts of an Ovary
Parts of an Ovary

Ovary Function

The major function of a flower ovary is to produce four structures:

  1. Eggs
  2. Polar nuclei
  3. Seeds
  4. Fruits

Inside an ovule, cells divide to produce an egg and two other cells called polar nuclei. When a pollen grain lands on the stigma of a carpel, it will release two sperm cells that then travel down to the ovary. Inside the ovary, one sperm cell fuses with the egg to produce a zygote, or the first cell of a baby plant. This process is called fertilization. The second sperm cell fuses with the two polar nuclei to produce the endosperm. This will provide nutrients to the growing baby plant, or embryo.

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