Dear Garden Guy… What??? (Part One)

A few days ago a local garden center put the following post on Facebook: If your veggie plants are flowering but not producing, Garden Guy suggests squeezing each blossom gently to knock some pollen onto the stamen of the flower to pollinate it. Attached to the post was a picture of a summer squash plant.

I sat here at the computer and read that post about five times, scratching my head and saying “What? You should knock pollen onto the stamen of the flower? That makes no sense.”

After thinking about it for a while and checking to confirm the definition of stamen (just in case I got it wrong!), I come to the conclusion that the Garden Guy got a little mixed up on his flower morphology terms, specifically the male and female parts of the flower.

Parts of a Flower (from www.amnh.org)

Parts of a Flower
(from The American Museum of Natural History: http://www.amnh.org)

The male organ of the flower is called the  stamen. It’s made up of two parts: the anther which produces pollen and the filament which supports the anther and connects it to the receptacle.

The female organ of the flower is called the pistil and it has three parts. The top of the pistil is the stigma, the place where pollen lands and grows so that it can fertilize the ovules (embryonic seeds). The bottom of the pistil is called the ovary and it contains the ovules and is attached to the receptacle. The style connects the ovary and the stigma.

The Garden Guy said to knock some pollen onto the stamen of the flower to pollinate it. That’s impossible because the stamen is what produces pollen; the pistil is what receives it.  I can understand how someone could make this mistake; I have to think for a moment to not confuse the stigma and the stamen. The little trick I use is this: stamen has the word “men” in it so it’s the male organ of the flower.

I did add a comment on Facebook regarding this post:  I think you mean knocking pollen onto the stigma of the pistil – that’s what receives the pollen. The stamen (specifically the anther) is what produces the pollen.

The Garden Guy never responded to my comment – oh well! I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a botany nut and the terms for the parts of flowers and plants are important to me. I feel better having corrected this terminology error but there’s something else about that original post that make no sense to me.

That’s for “Dear Garden Guy… What??? Part Two”!!!

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