In this post, we will take a closer look at the steps of animal pollination and the plant life cycle. You might already know that pollination is the transfer of pollen from the stamen to the carpel of a flowering plant (psst – brush up on your plant anatomy by reading my flower anatomy post or checking out my Flowers Unit!). Once pollinated, the plant forms a fruit. Fruits contain seeds, which will grow into the next generation of plants.
A variety of animals can be pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and many others that may surprise you. The relationship between a pollinator and a plant is key to the survival of both species. In fact, this relationship is so important to both the plant and the pollinator that it actually influences how they evolve over time. In other words, plants and pollinators coevolved. Plant species developed traits to help them attract pollinators, such as brightly colored petals, sweet nectars, and strong scents. As pollinator species grew reliant on nectar as a food source, they developed body parts and habits for collecting flower nectar more efficiently.
Now, let’s take a look at the steps of pollination and the plant life cycle!
Step 1: Attracting pollinators
A flower attracts a pollinator with fragrances, nectar, and brightly-colored petals. Pollen from the flower’s stamen attaches to the pollinator.
Step 2: Pollen transfer
The pollinator travels to another flower of the same species.
Step 3: Pollination
The pollinator tracks pollen from the first flower onto the stigma (tip) of the second flower’s carpel. Pollen travels via the style to the flower’s ovary.
Step 4: Fruit growth
After receiving pollen, a fruit or seed pod begins to grow from the ovary of the flower. Many of the flower parts wilt and fall off as the fruit/seed pod grows.
Step 5: Seed dispersal
The seed pod or fruit develops. Once the fruit is ripe, the plant must disperses its seeds. At this point, some plants rely on another animal (separate from the pollinator) to help with seed dispersal. After the animal eats the fruit, it travels away from the parent plant and deposits the seeds in its scat. However, many plants do not rely on animals for seed dispersal. Alternative methods for seed dispersal utilize forces such as wind, water, and gravity.
Step 6: Germination and growth
After seed dispersal, seeds will germinate (or sprout) into tiny plants. The luckiest of the tiny plants will grow and reach maturity. Once mature, the plants make flowers of their own to attract pollinators, and the cycle begins again!
Pollination and Plant Life Cycle Classroom Resources:
Are you studying pollination with your classroom? Here are some additional activity ideas and teaching resources!
1. Try my free pollinator guessing game for your classroom…
For this class game, I’ve put together 18 printable pollinator cards, plus directions. Click here to download the free cards and game!
2. Read my post about weird and wild pollinators!
3. Check out my list of pollinator activity ideas for classrooms!
4. Study plant anatomy with my free flower anatomy activity and post!
5. Support Wild Earth Lab with a curriculum purchase?
Your students will love my Pollination Unit! I created this set of printable pollination learning materials and it is packed with activities and information, as well as my pollination artwork!
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