Plants without flowers can make seeds

Q. Can a plant that does not have flowers make seeds?

Angela from Youngstown

A. The short answer is – yes! As an urban gardener, I have had the same questions as I explore new aspects of nature and gardening.

One example Angela might be thinking of is a conifer. Conifers do not appear to have flowers. But their flowers are called strobili, which means “small cones.” Some conifers are pine, spruce, cedar, larch, cypress, juniper and redwood. So even though things may not seem to have flowers, they have a form of a flower for reproduction.

What is a seed? It is an embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer covering. The formation of the seed is part of the process of reproduction in seed plants. There are many different kinds of seeds. Some plants make a lot of seeds, some make few. Seeds are often hard and very small, but some are larger. The coconut is as big as a child’s head, but it contains more than one seed.

How do plants make seeds? The production of seeds requires both male and female parts of a complete flower, or separate male and female flowers. The male parts of the flower produce pollen, which is then carried to a female part by birds, bees and insects. When flowers bloom, they attract a pollinator, depending on the kind of flower. Most, but not all, plants have both male and female parts inside one flower.

Why does a flower make a seed? It’s for the purpose of reproduction. Seeds enable a plant to reproduce and are essential for the continuation of the plant.

How does a plant reproduce if it doesn’t have seeds? Concentrating on seed production requires a lot of energy from the plant itself. This process does not work well for all plants. Some plants look for alternate reproduction, such as asexual means, including forming rapidly spreading underground stems or prolific spores across the underside of its leaves. Daffodils, for example, take a lot of energy from the bulb to make a seed, but the main bulb also produces lateral buds that develop into offsets – a new bulb.

Our display at the Canfield Fair this year was all grown from seed. Take some time this winter to get your seeds ordered for the coming growing season. Grow some plants from seeds and teach the next generation about the importance of seeds and plants.

To learn more about seed biology, go to:

Today’s answer provided By Thresea F. Harris, OSU Extension master gardener volunteer. Call the office hotline at 330-533-5538 to submit your questions. Regular clinic hours are 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Thursdays.

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