Parts Of Grass Spikelet

John K. Saichuk  |  3/18/2005 1:08:04 AM

dissected and labeled grass spikelet
By definition a grass spikelet is the unit of the inflorscence of a grass, a member of the Poaceae or Gramineae family of plants.  It consists of two glumes and one or more florets.  The inflorscence is the arrangement of flowers on a plant and, even though the flowers of grasses are not showy or aromatic, they are flowers.  The glumes, lemma and palea are modified leaves that enclose the reproductive parts of the flower.  They are roughly equivalent to the sepals and petals of more conventional flowers.

The female structure of the flower is the pistil, which has three basic parts: the ovary, style and stigma.  The ovary is the part where the seed will form.  The stigma (two in this case) are the feathery purple structures in the photograph.  They catch pollen when it is shed from the male structures.  The style connects the stigmas to the ovary.  It is not labeled or very visible in the photograph.  The stamens are the male reproductive organs of the flower.  They are composed of the anthers and filaments.  Some grasses have six stamens and some have three.  The filaments are long, delicated structures that support the anthers.  The anthers are pollen sacks.  Pollen is shed from the anthers in a process called anthesis.  The anthers open at each end and the pollen is blown by the wind.  In some plants, like rice, the pollen fertilizes the egg located in the ovary of the same floret.  In cross fertilized species, it is carried by wind to other flowers.  In some flowers (florets in grasses) only male or female structures occur, not both.  When both are found in the same flower, as in this case, the flower is said to be perfect.  If an imperfect flowers has only male structures, it is a staminate flower; if only pistils occur, it is pistillate.Parts of Grass Spikelet
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