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Parts of a Flower Carpel: Lesson & Quiz

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Angela Lynn Swafford

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

The reason that many plants produce flowers is for reproduction. In this lesson, you will learn about the structure and function of the carpel - the female reproductive part of a flower.

We also recommend watching Flowers: Structure and Function of Male & Female Components and Methods of Pollination and Flower-Pollinator Relationships

What is a Flower?

Angiosperms are plants that produce reproductive structures called flowers. Some examples of angiosperms include oak trees, grasses, roses, and orchids. The seeds of flowering plants are enclosed inside an ovary. The ovary is part of a flower's female reproductive structure called a carpel.

A carpel is the innermost part of a flower. It is usually surrounded by male reproductive structures called stamens, both of which are surrounded by petals. The petals of flowers are often large and brightly colored. Before the flower opens, the petals are protected by sepals, which are usually green.

The four parts of a flower.
Parts of a Flower

A flower can have one or more carpels. If there are many carpels, they can be separate or fused together. Together, all the carpels are called a gynoecium, or a pistil. A carpel is made up of three structures:

  1. Stigma
  2. Style
  3. Ovary

Structure of a carpel.
Parts of a Carpel

Parts of a Carpel

Stigma

The stigma is the top, sticky portion of a carpel, and it is the location of pollination. Pollination occurs when a pollen grain lands on the stigma. Pollen is a protective structure carrying sperm cells and is produced by a flower's stamens.

Style

The style of a carpel is a long tube that connects the stigma to the ovary. After pollination, pollen grains will produce pollen tubes. These grow down the style toward the ovary, where they then release sperm cells.

Ovary

The ovary is located at the bottom of a carpel. Inside the ovary, there may be one or more ovules. The ovules are housed in openings, or chambers, called locules. A locule may have one or many ovules, but there is only one locule in each carpel. So, when carpels are fused together, the number of locules can be used to determine how many carpels there are.

Ovules contain egg cells. After a sperm cell moves down the style of a carpel, it will enter the ovule and fuse with an egg cell. This is called fertilization. It produces an embryo, or baby plant. A protective covering surrounds this embryo and its food source. This entire structure produced after fertilization is called a seed. The surrounding ovary usually develops into a fruit that protects the seed.

Summary

Flowers are reproductive structures of angiosperms, or flowering plants. The four main parts of flowers are sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels. The stamens are male reproductive structures that produce pollen. The carpels are female reproductive structures that produce egg cells and protect a developing baby plant or embryo.

The three main parts of a carpel are the stigma, style, and ovary. The stigma is where pollination occurs. The style is a tube connecting the stigma to the ovary, which contains a chamber called a locule. Inside a locule is an ovule, and the ovule contains an egg cell that, when fertilized, will develop into an embryo. This embryo is contained within a seed and protected by a fruit.

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