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A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants (plants of the division Magnoliophyta, also called angiosperms). The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs. Flowers may facilitate outcrossing (fusion of sperm and eggs from different individuals in a population) or allow selfing (fusion of sperm and egg from the same flower). Some flowers produce diaspores without fertilization (parthenocarpy). Flowers contain sporangia and are the site where gametophytes develop. Flowers give rise to fruit and seeds. Many flowers have evolved to be attractive to animals, so as to cause them to be vectors for the transfer of pollen.
In addition to facilitating the reproduction of flowering plants, flowers have long been admired and used by humans to beautify their environment, and also as objects of romance, ritual, religion, medicine and as a source of food.
The principal purpose of a flower is the reproduction of the individual and the species. All flowering plants are heterosporous, producing two types of spores. Microspores are produced by meiosis inside anthers while megaspores are produced inside ovules, inside an ovary. In fact, anthers typically consist of four microsporangia and an ovule is an integumented megasporangium. Both types of spores develop into gametophytes inside sporangia. As with all heterosporous plants, the gametophytes also develop inside the spores (are endosporic).
In the majority of species, individual flowers have both functional carpels and stamens. Botanists describe these flowers as being perfect or bisexual and the species as hermaphroditic. Some flowers lack one or the other reproductive organ and called imperfect or unisexual If unisex flowers are found on the same individual plant but in different locations, the species is said to be monoecious. If each type of unisex flower is found only on separate individuals, the plant is dioecious
Many flowers have important symbolic meanings in Western culture. The practice of assigning meanings to flowers is known as floriography. Some of the more common examples include:
Red roses are given as a symbol of love, beauty, and passion.
Poppies are a symbol of consolation in time of death. In the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, red poppies are worn to commemorate soldiers who have died in times of war.
Irises/Lily are used in burials as a symbol referring to "resurrection/life". It is also associated with stars (sun) and its petals blooming/shining.
Daisies are a symbol of innocence.
October 13th, 2013
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