Plant Reproduction


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•  Success in plant reproduction depends on pollination, fertilization and seed dispersal

Plants can reproduce in a number of different ways:

  • Vegetative propagation (asexual reproduction from a plant cutting)
  • Spore formations (e.g. moulds, ferns)
  • Pollen transfer (flowering plants – angiospermophytes)

Sexual reproduction in flowering plants involves the transfer of pollen (male gamete) to an ova (female gamete)

  • This involves three distinct phases – pollination, fertilization and seed dispersal


  • The transfer of pollen grains from an anther (male plant structure) to a stigma (female plant structure)
  • Many plants possess both male and female structures (monoecious) and can potentially self-pollinate
  • From an evolutionary perspective, cross-pollination is preferable as it improves genetic diversity


  • Fusion of a male gamete nuclei with a female gamete nuclei to form a zygote
  • In plants, the male gamete is stored in the pollen grain and the female gamete is found in the ovule

Seed dispersal:

  • Fertilisation of gametes results in the formation of a seed, which moves away from the parental plant
  • This seed dispersal reduces competition for resources between the germinating seed and the parental plant
  • There are a variety of seed dispersal mechanisms, including wind, water, fruits and animals
    • Seed structure will vary depending on the mechanism of dispersal employed by the plant

Plant Reproduction Stages

plant reproduction

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•  Most flowering plants use mutualistic relationships with pollinators in sexual reproduction

Cross-pollination involves transferring pollen grains from one plant to the ovule of a different plant

  • Pollen can be transferred by wind or water, but is commonly transferred by animals (called pollinators)

Pollinators are involved in a mutualistic relationship with the flowering plant – whereby both species benefit from the interaction

  • The flowering plant gains a means of sexual reproduction (via the transference of pollen between plants)
  • The animal gains a source of nutrition (plants secrete a sugar-rich substance called nectar to attract pollinators

Common examples of pollinators include birds, bats and insects (including bees and butterflies)

  • Flowers may be structured to optimise access for certain pollinators (e.g. tube-shaped flowers for birds with long beaks)