Are flowers asexual or sexual?

Flowering plants can reproduce both by sexual and asexual means of reproduction. Sexual reproduction involves the fusion of male and female gametes which takes place through pollination by birds, insects, and water. This pollination causes the fertilization and the female ovules grow into seeds. Asexual reproduction can take place naturally as well as artificially. The natural vegetative propagation involves runners, tubers, plantlets, bulbs, corms, suckers, and keikis for asexual reproduction while there are several artificial methods such as cutting, grafting, and layering for asexual vegetative propagation.

Many plants have the ability to propagate through both sexual and asexual reproduction. Let’s try to dig deeper to understand how plants can reproduce through these both means.

Asexual reproduction

Asexual reproduction is a mode of reproduction in which the plants can produce new individuals that are genetically identical to their parents without mixing of male and female gametes. Individuals produced through asexual reproduction have higher chances of survival as compared to sexual reproduction because they carry the same genes identical to their parents. No flowers are required for asexual reproduction.

Asexual reproduction can take places in two ways:

  1. Vegetative reproduction
  2. Apomixis

Vegetative Reproduction

In vegetative reproduction is a form of asexual reproduction, in which plants can produce new individuals without the production of seeds or spores. There are several advantages of vegetative reproduction such as

  1. It helps to pass the useful characteristics of parents to the new individuals that help them to survive well.
  2. It is one of the rapid and easier way through which plants can propagate.
  3. Plants no having seeds can be easily reproduced
  4. Plants produced using vegetative reproduction increases the chances of reaching maturity early.

One of the main disadvantage of vegetative reproduction is it prevents the genetic diversity in the species which can result in reduction of crop yield.

Read: Can Plants Survive Without Oxygen?

There are both natural and artificial ways of vegetative reproduction through which asexual reproduction can occur in plants. Natural vegetative reproduction occurs through the structural modifications of stems, roots, and leaves. They are mostly found in herbaceous and perennial plants. Here are some of the methods of vegetative reproductions:

Runners: In this way of reproduction stems grow horizontally along the ground and produces roots at its tips.

Examples of runner are strawberries, peppermint, Bermuda grass, spider plant, etc.

Tubers: Tubers propagate from roots or stems in which nutrients are stored in enlarged structures and these enlarged structures produce new individuals.

Examples of tuber are potato, sweet potato, cassava, and dahlia.

Plantlets: In this type of asexual reproduction, a small bud gets produced on the leaf margin which gives birth to new individuals.

Bryophyllum is one of the best example of plantlets.

Natural vegetative propagation involves several other modes such as bulbs, corms, suckers, and keikis for asexual reproduction.

Vegetative reproduction can be promoted using artificial means to get desired plant species. Most common methods of artificial vegetative reproduction are:

Cutting: In this method, parts of plants such as leaves, stem, or roots are cut and planted. Then, these small parts of plants grow into a new individual. Rose and Hibiscus plants can be produced using this method.

photo credit: classnotes.org

Grafting: Grafting is a method in which tender shoot also known as scion from one plant is connected to a rootstock of other plants.

Photo credit: the Spruce

Examples: roses, peaches

Layering: It is a technique in which branches or stems of a plant are bent and covered with soil. This process also occurs naturally.

Interesting fact:

Strawberries reproduce asexually but actual strawberries are the result of sexual reproduction.

Apomixis

It is the process of asexual reproduction in which new individual is produced through seeds without meiosis and fertilization.

Till now, we have understood how asexual reproduction takes place in plants. Now let’s have look at sexual reproduction in plants.

Read: Do plants die of old age?

Sexual reproduction in plants:

Sexual reproduction is a complex process in which two parents are involved to produce new individuals. This process involves the fusion of two gametes from parents. The reproductive organ of a plant is a flower that is responsible for the production of male and female gametes. The transfer of male gametes to female gametes is called pollination. Pollination can take place using various methods such as pollination by birds and insects, pollination by wind, pollination by water, and pollination by deception.

This process of pollination leads to fertilization and the female ovules grow into seeds. After the seed is ready for biological dispersal that is the movement of seed from birth site to breeding site, the seeds get detached from plants and grow into a new individual under specific conditions.

We can conclude that reproduction in plants can occur both through asexual and sexual reproduction. Hibiscus is one of the best examples that can propagate using both asexual and sexual reproduction.

Professor Atom

View posts by Professor Atom
Professor Atom is a science enthusiast and alumni of IIT Bombay. According to him, every question can be solved with curiosity and mind mapping. ( Curiosity = Asking Questions = Learning )

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