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The Plant, the flower


Twenty-three titles have been published in this series, designed as handbooks for intermediate level agricultural education and training. They may be purchased as a set or as individual documents.

1. The way to work. The living plant

2. The plant – the root

3. The plant – the stem

4. The plant – the leaf

5. The plant – the flower

6. The soil – man and the soil

7. The soil – how the soil is made up

8. The soil – the living soil – working the soil

9. The soil – working the soil (continued)

10. The soil – conserving the soil – improving the soil

11. Animal husbandry – introduction

12. Animal husbandry – feeding animals

13. Animal husbandry – looking after animals – now cattle reproduce

14. Animal husbandry – what cattle produce

15. Keeping chickens

16. Food crops

17. Market gardening

18. The oil palm

19. Groundnuts

20. Upland rice

21. Wet paddy or swamp rice

22. Cocoa

23. Coffee

Better Farming Series    5

The Plant

— The Flower

Published by arrangement with the Institut africain pour le développement économique et social


Rome 1970

© French edition, lnstitut africain pour

le développement économique et social (INADES) 1967

© English edition, FAO 1970


  1. Preface
  2. Outline Of Course
  3. Why do we study the flower fruit and seed?
    1. Where does the seed come from?
    2. Where is the flower?
    3. What does a flower consist of?
    4. Let us look at a groundnut flower
    5. Let us look at a maize plant
    6. The reproductive organs
    7. The protective organs
    8. Summary
  4. Function of the flower
    1. Fertilization
  5. The fruit and the seed
    1. Mango
    2. Papaya
    3. Groundnut
    4. Rice
    5. Summary
  6. Seeds and sowing
    1. How does the germ grow?
    2. Selecting and treating seed
    3. Improving seeds
  7. Storage of grain and seed
  8. Some practical applications of the course on the plant
  9. Suggested question paper


This manual is a translation and adaptation of “La plante” -la fleur, published by Agri-Service-Afrique of the Institut africain pour le développement économique et social (INADES), and forms part of a series of 23 booklets. Grateful acknowledgement is made to the publishers for making available this text, which it is hoped will find widespread use at the intermediate level of agricultural education and training in English-speaking countries.

It should be noted that the original texts were prepared for an African environment and this is naturally reflected in the English version. However, it is expected that many of the manuals of the series — a list of which will be found on the inside front cover — will also be of value for training in many other parts of the world. Adaptations can be made to the text where necessary owing to different climatic and ecological conditions.

Applications for permission to issue this manual in other languages are welcomed. Such applications should be addressed to: Director, Publications Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.

The cover illustrations were prepared by Asun Balzola.


• Why do we study the flower fruit and seed?

Where does the seed come from?

Where is the flower?

What does a flower consist of?

Let us look at a groundnut flower

Let us look at a maize plant

The reproductive organs

The protective organs


• Function of the flower


• The fruit and the seed






• Seeds and sowing

How does the germ grow?

Selecting and treating seed

Improving seeds

• Storage of grain and seed

• Some practical applications of the course on the plant

• Suggested question paper


It may be some time since you read the general and special advice, The Way to Work. Reread It in Booklet No. 1, pages 1 to 11.



Read pages 4 to 9.

• Take a good look at the flowers where you live.

• If the okra, hibiscus, cotton and groundnut are not in flower, take a good look at the drawings.

You have to recognize the male and female organs on the plants and in the flowers.

• In the course there are some new words. Learn them carefully.

Then you will understand the course more easily.



Read pages 10 to 16.

• Study once more pages 10 to 14, the reproductive organs.

• Make an effort to understand these pages fully and to observe carefully the flowers and drawings.

It is very important to understand fertilization. Work longer if necessary.



Read pages 17 to 22.

• To help your memory, reread pages 10 to 16.

They explain how fruits and seeds are produced.

• In learning how the germ grows, you will understand why seeds must be sown with great care.



Read pages 23 to 27.

• This week’s work is interesting and what you learn will be useful in your work.

• Reread with great attention the whole booklet, and especially pages 10 to 16.

• Study the practical applications of the course on the plant, pages 28 and 29.

• Answer the question paper.

Try to answer the questions without looking at the course.

Look at the course to see if your answers are right.


You want to understand what you are doing.

You do not want to work like a machine.

• You sow seed in order to get a good harvest, but you want to understand how the flower produces the fruit, how the fruit produces the seed.

You want to know how the plant reproduces itself.

• You want to understand why you must choose good varieties, selected seed; why you must disinfect seed; how you can best store the harvest.

We must study the flower, the fruit and the seed in order to understand them better and to get good harvests.


1. A calf is born after the union of a bull and a cow.

A kid is born after the union of a he-goat and a she-goat.

The bull has fertilized the cow.

The he-goat has fertilized the she-goat.

To produce young, there must be a union of male and female, the male must fertilize the female.

2. Flowers, too, have male organs and female organs.

3. The union of the male organs and female organs of a flower produces the seed.

We must study the flower to understand where the seed comes from.


4. The stem bears buds.

The buds produce leaves of flowers.

Often the flowers are between the stem and the leaf.

5. All the plants you grow have flowers.

• Some flowers are alike, for instance the cotton flower is like the hibiscus flower.

They belong to the same family.

• Other flowers are different from each other, for instance the cotton flower is not like the maize flower.


Let us look at an hibiscus flower, or one of okra or cotton, that has been cut in half.

6. The stamens are male organs.

7. The ovary is a female organ.

8. Around the ovary and the stamens there are protective organs.


9. The stamens are male organs.

10. The ovary is a female organ.

11. Around the ovary and the stamens there are protective organs.


12. At the top of the stem there are a lot of little male flowers.

They have stamens but no ovary.

13. At the middle of the stem there is the ear.

The ear is made up of many ovaries.

Each ovary will produce a seed.

There are no stamens on the female flowers of maize.

14. The male flowers and the female flowers also have protective organs.


We have just seen the most important parts of a flower.

Let us now look in more detail at each of these parts.

This will help you to understand better what you have to learn later.

15. The male organs.

Each stamen consists of a thread with a little bag at the end.

16. In this bag there is a yellow powder. This is pollen.

If you touch the stamens of a flower, pollen sticks to your fingers.

Pollen is produced by She stamens.

Not all flowers have the same number of stamens.

The hibiscus flower has many stamens.

The groundnut flower has ten stamens.

The male flower of maize has three stamens.

17. The female organs.

Let us cut in half an okra flower, or a cotton or hibiscus flower.

You will see that the ovary is full of white grains. These are the ovules.

The ovules will produce the seed.

18. From the ovary comes a long white thread which passes through the tube formed by the stamens.

This thread bears at the end five little red globes; it is called the pistil.

In the groundnut flower the ovary contains three or four ovules.

There is also a pistil at the end of the ovary.


19. Let us look again at the hibiscus flower.

The male and female organs are protected by five large red petals.

These petals extend round the flower.

20. The lower parts of the petals are in a little green bowl made up of five green leaves. This is the calyx.

The petals come out of it when the flower opens.

The calyx and the petals protect the inside of the flower.


21. A flowering plant always has:

a male part – the stamens;

a female part – the ovary;

around these two parts – the protective organs.

22. The stamens and the ovary may be in the same flower, for example hibiscus, okra, cotton, pimento, tomato, tobacco.

23. The stamens and the ovary may be in different flowers. In that case there are male and female flowers, for instance maize, oil palm.

24. The stamens and the ovary may be in different flowers and on different plants.

In the case of papaya the male flowers and the female flowers are not on the same, tree. There are male papaya trees and female papaya trees.

Only the female papaya trees bear fruit. The male papaya trees cannot have any fruit because they have no ovary.


25. Flowers have male organs and female organs.

The union of pollen and ovule produces a seed.

The seed can produce a plant.

26. How does the union of pollen and ovule take place?

The stamens produce pollen.

The pollen is very light.

Wind or insects can carry it a long way.

The pistil hairs are moist.

Pollen sticks to them.

The pollen germinates in the pistil as a seed germinates in moist earth.

The pollen penetrates inside the ovary and into the ovule.

The ovule is fertilized.


Fertilization is the union of pollen and ovule

27. If the flower dries up before the pollen arrives, there is no fertilization.

When the pistil is dry the pollen cannot germinate.

A very dry wind, for instance, can prevent fertilization and reduce the yield.

28. After fertilization the ovary and the ovules swell.

The ovary becomes the fruit. The ovules become seeds.

29. If the ovary has only one ovule, the fruit will have only one seed, for instance mango, avocado.

If the ovary has several ovules, the fruit will have several seeds, for instance orange, papaya, bean.


Plants are not all alike. Roots, stems, leaves, flowers are different.

The fruits too are different.

The mango, cocoa pod, grains of maize, the avocado, papaya and cotton boll are all fruits. But they are not alike.


The fruit of the mango is covered with a hard skin.

The flesh is underneath this skin. It is yellow, Juicy, good to eat. It covers the seed.

The seed is big and hard. It contains a germ.

In the ground the germ can produce a mango tree.


The fruit of the papaya tree is covered with very thin skin.

The flesh is underneath this skin. It is yellow, juicy, good to eat. It covers very many seeds.

Each seed contains a germ.

In the ground the germ can produce a papaya tree.


The fruit of the groundnut is covered with a shell.

This shell is yellow; it dries when taken out of the ground.

It covers one or more seeds.

Each seed contains a germ.

In the ground the germ produces a groundnut plant.

33. RICE

Each grain of rice is a fruit.

The fruit of rice consists of two parts: the seed and fine, dry husks.

Each grain contains a germ.

In the ground the germ can produce a rice plant.


34. The flesh of the papaya and the mango, the shell of the groundnut and the husk of rice contain one or more seeds.

35. All fruits consist of a covering containing one or more seeds.

36. We eat or sow only the seeds and not the coverings of millet, groundnuts, cotton or rice.

37. Removing the coverings of millet or sorghum is called threshing.

Removing the covering of cotton is called ginning.

Removing the covering of groundnuts is called shelling.

Removing the covering of rice is called husking.

38. Threshing, ginning, shelling, husking can be done by hand in the traditional way or by machine. For instance, there are ginning mills for cotton. We shall have more to say on this in the courses on particular crops.



39. The two parts surrounding the germ are useful to it. The coverings protect it and the foods stored up in reserve feed it.

40.The germ obtains its food from the reserves built up by the seed.

The leaves and roots cannot yet feed the plant. The leaves are still in the soil and have no light and the roots are still too small.

41. The seed needs water.

The germ is a plant. To grow, it needs water. The germ of a dry seed cannot grow. When the soil is moist, the water enters the seed. Its skin becomes soft and splits. The germ grows.

Sowing must be done in moist soil.

But if there is too much water, the seeds die. They rot.

42. The seed needs air.

The germ is a plant. It breathes (see Booklet No. 4, paragraph 34). The seed must find air in the soil. Before sowing, the soil must be worked so that air can penetrate the soil.

43. The soil must not be packed too hard on to the seeds. If the soil is packed too hard, the germ will lack air and grow badly.

44. The seed must not be sown too deep. If it is, it will lack air, and its reserves will soon be used up, so that the plant will not be able to grow above ground level.

45. However, the seed must be sufficiently covered. Seed that is not sufficiently covered germinates badly. And the birds may eat it.

46. If seeds are sown at the same depth, the plants emerge from the ground at the same time. They will all be the same size, and you can more easily choose the moment to put down fertilizers, apply pesticides, and harvest.

Seed grains are those used for sowing.

47. To get healthy plants and good harvests you must sow good seed.


48. Seed must be selected carefully.

Seed that is too old does not germinate.

Seed damaged by insects does not germinate.

Diseased seed produces diseased plants.

Remove all seed that is broken, damaged by insects, diseased or misshapen.

49. Seed must be treated.

To protect seed against diseases and insects, add a little pesticide (fungicide or insecticide) to the seed, and mix it well with the seed before sowing.

50. You must take great care. Pesticides are poisonous.

You must wash yourself well after handling them.

Seed that has been treated like this must not be eaten by people or given to animals.


51. To get the best possible harvest, the best seeds must be chosen from the best varieties.

What Is a variety?


Not all maize is alike. The height of the plants, the size of the ears, are different. The grains are not always of the same colour or the same shape. The harvest is not always taken at the same time. There are several varieties of maize.

52. Research stations and extension services look for varieties that will give the best harvest. They select the best varieties and can get them for you. Always follow the advice of research stations and extension services.

53. Some varieties give a bigger harvest.

Local cotton may yield 150 to 200 kilogrammes (kg) per hectare (ha).

Allen cotton may yield 1000 kg per ha.

The wild oil palm may yield about 20 kg of bunch each year.

A selected oil palm may yield 100 kg of bunch each year.

54. Some varieties can be harvested earlier.

55. Some varieties yield a better product.

Cotton fibres may be long or short.

Allen cotton has fibres that are longer than those of Mono cotton.

56. Some varieties are more resistant to diseases.

Some varieties of groundnuts do not get the disease called rosette. These varieties are said to be rosette-resistant.

In your home district, what varieties do the extension officers recommend for millet, sorghum, cotton, groundnuts, rice, tomatoes?


The farmer puts his harvest in granaries. In this way he keeps his grain and seed for the following year.

Not all granaries are alike. They may be made of wood or clay or basketwork.

57. Granaries must not touch the ground.

Then the grain will keep dry. Animals cannot knock over the granary and eat the grain.

Before storing grain in barns.

58. The grain must be well dried.

Grain that is not dry enough may rot. It will not be any good either to eat or to sow. It is very important to dry the grain well.

59. The grain must be treated with pesticides.

Insects may eat the grain.

The grain must be protected against insects.

It must be mixed with a pesticide.

The grain and the pesticide must be well stirred.

In this way all the grain wili be protected.

Ask the extension officer for advice – some pesticides are poisonous.


In studying the course on the plant you have not wasted your time. Here are some practical applications.

Before sowing or planting Booklet Paragraph
Choice of ground:    
different sowing depth for different plants 2 10-17
enriching the soil with fertilizers 2 38,39
Ploughing the land according to root systems:    
deep working for tap-root system 2 15
Before sowing, dealing with seed:    
choosing seed; sorting seed 5 48
using selected seed 5 52-56
treating seed 5 49
Timing: insect attacks 4 50
Depth 5 44,45
Shading 4 38
Growing crops in association or not:    
creeping root system 2 13
tap-root system 2 17
close together, with tap-root system 2 16
better yield 2 35
better resistance to diseases 4 48
After emergence from ground    
Thinning 4 42
Good feeding and appearance of plant 4 43
Weeding 4 49
Earthing up encourages adventitious roots, holds plant fast in soil 2 23
Watering: why? 4 36,37
Applying fertilizers:    
leaves are greener 4 43
fruits are larger 4 44
Taking care not to damage the stem 3 23
Protection of plants    
Control of insects and diseases 4 50,55
Cultural techniques:    
helping movement of air 4 49
protection against animals 4 56
After harvesting    
Pulling up and burning old plants 4 51
Enriching soil 2 9
What plants do    
Produce fruit for food 5 30,31
Produce grain and seed 5 32,33
Food for animals 2 8,9



The seed comes from the flower

Yes or No

The ovary is the male organ

Yes or No

All flowers are alike

Yes or No

Each seed contains a germ

Yes or No

The germ breathes

Yes or No


The union of the__________organs and the__________organs of flowers produces the__________

The stamens produce__________

The pollen__________the ovule.

Allen is a__________of cotton.

We__________seed against insects and diseases.


What is the ovule?

What is pollen for?

What is a fruit made up of?

Why must seeds be sown at the same depth?

What should a farmer do before sowing?

What does the germ need in order to grow?

Why should improved seed be put in the ground?

You have learned a lot.

There is a lot more to learn.

Go on studying.

And stick to it.


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The Plant, the flower

Better Farming Series, no.5. This handbook is designed for intermediate level agricultural education and training. This manual is a translation and adaptation of "La plante: la fleur," published by the Agri-ServiceAfrique of the lnstitut africain pour le developpement economique et social (INADES), and forms part of a series of booklets. Grateful acknowledgement is made to the publishers for making this text available for English-language agricultural education and training.This illustrated manual uses groundnut and maize flowers as examples to teach about how a flower functions for fertilization with the reproductive organs of the plant, and how seeds and fruit are generated. It also covers seeds and sowing, and storage of grain and seeds.

  • Author: FAO
  • Published: 2017-01-16 11:50:13
  • Words: 4597
The Plant, the flower The Plant, the flower