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Flower lovers everywhere may have trouble distinguishing a perfect flower, because to them, all flowers show some level of perfection. But this term means something specific in the botanical world. Read this lesson to learn what makes a flower perfect.

What Is a Perfect Flower?

Amateur botanists may see perfection in any flower, but there is a specific meaning to the term perfect flower.

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A perfect flower is one that has all three of these traits:

  1. It makes and distributes male gametes
  2. It makes female gametes
  3. It receives male gametes

What is a gamete? A gamete is a sex cell that will unite with another sex cell during the process of sexual reproduction. In this example, gametes are either male or female and look to pair with the opposite type (male cells look for female cells and vice versa).

Flower Anatomy

So, a perfect flower produces both male and female gametes (sex cells). Let’s take a look at what this really means.

In the flower world, the male reproductive structures are called stamens, and the female reproductive structures are called pistils. The stamens are made up of two parts: the anther and the filament. The anther is the part of the stamen that produces pollen. Pollen is the max gamete, or sex cell.

The filament supports the anther to make pollen available to insects that aid in cross-pollination.The pistils (remember, these are the female structures) are made up of three parts: the stigma, the style, and the ovary. The stigma is the part that catches the pollen.

The style is a tube where caught pollen is transferred from the stigma to the ovary. The ovary is located at the base of the style and this is where eggs (the female gametes, or sex cells) are produced and can combine with the pollen when it’s present. When the male and female gametes combine, they form a fertilized seed.

A diagram of a perfect flower, with both male and female reproductive structures labeled.
Insects like this fly help cross-pollination take place.

Perfect flowers that rely on cross-pollination for reproduction may keep their male and female structures physically separated to reduce the risk of self-pollination, or they may produce each gamete at different times.

In some cases, a perfect flower will self-pollinate but the seed will not be viable (meaning it’s not capable of growing into a new plant).Now we know that a perfect flower produces both male and female gametes, so it makes sense that an imperfect flower is one that has only male structures and gametes or only female structures and gametes.

Examples of Perfect Flowers

Let’s look at some examples of perfect flowers. Many of the flowers you encounter on a daily basis have both male and female reproductive structures, making them perfect flowers. These include roses, tulips, lilies, orchids, apples, and cherries, among many others.

Examples of a perfect flowers: rose, lily, and tulip
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