While some people who embark on a professional flower holidays are seasoned amateur botanists with years of knowledge under their belts, many are new to the interest. Understanding the basics of flower anatomy and plant life cycles can aid with identification of species out in the field, so learning a little more before heading off on a flower holiday can help make the experience all the more fulfilling. |
Kinds of Angiosperms
Angiosperms (flowering plants) can be broadly divided into three types:
Annuals: Annuals enact their entire life cycle in one season, developing from seed to flowering and seeding again within that period. Once the seed has been produced the entire plant dies off.
Biennials: As the name suggests, biennials (the smallest group) complete their life cycle over a period of two years. In the first season small leaves appear just above the ground, then in the second season the entire cycle is completed, as the plant grows a stem, flowers, produces a seed and then dies.
Perennials: Perennials grow back multiple times over the seasons – and are usually defined as living for three or more years. The upper portion of the plant dies during the winter period and then regenerates from the existing roots in spring. Some perennials' leaves don't die off in winter, although they will not flower until the following spring.
There is also another kind, called annual/perennial, which are those species that can change their cycle – from germination to death – depending on the conditions (geographical and climatic) they inhabit.
The Angiosperm's Cycle of Life
Whether an annual, biennial or perennial, the basic stages of an angiosperm's life cycle are the same.
Seed stage: Every plant begins with an embryo contained inside a seed. The two types of seeds – dicots and monocots – both also contain cotyledons, which store nutrients and the beginnings of the plant's root system. Dicots have two cotyledons whereas monocots have just one.
Germination: Seeds need a combination of warmth, moisture and (sometimes) light in order to germinate. After hitting the ground and being surrounded by soil and water for a period of time, the seed splits and the stem begins to push through, while simultaneously the roots begin to push downwards into the earth.
Growth: For growth to continue, photosynthesis needs to occur – the process of using sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to produce food (sugars) – which happens as soon as the leaves sprout. The stem and roots continue to develop and transport the nutrients required for growth, and after a period of time the flower buds appear.
Pollination and reproduction: The flower contains the plant's sexual organs – the pistil (female) and/or stamen (male). Some species have only female or male organs and rely on insects or other animals to transport the pollen to reproduce, while some have both and are able to self-pollinate. The male stamen produces the pollen, while the female contains the ovary and ovules. Once the pollen reaches the ovary, the ovules are fertilized – creating a seed or fruit.
Seed spreading: This is the last stage of the angiosperm's life cycle and there are a variety of ways in which the seeds can be dispersed, including via animals, water channels and the wind.
While the stages of an angiosperm's life cycle are fairly straightforward, the fascination lies in Nature's sheer ingenuity in creating a species that can evolve, adapt, survive and reproduce.
Learn from the Experts on a Flower Holiday
On a professionally organised flower holiday, even absolute novices can gain a wealth of botanical knowledge in a short time out in the field. Accompanied by expert guides, these dedicated tours expose participants to a wide range of species and habitats in exotic destinations all over the world.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in wildflowers. As a passionate lover of botany, Marissa chooses the expert-led flower holiday itineraries organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable encounter with a wide range of plant species in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.
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