Do all flowers produce pollen?

Butterfly pollinating native flowers

During a recent visit to Double Bay Public School a Year 1 student was keen to know if ALL flowers make pollen. We wrote to Dr Jason Bragg from Royal Botanic Gardens for an answer.

Jason's answer:

The short answer is No! Very many flowers do make pollen, but not ALL.

In many plants, each flower can produce pollen and seeds. However, there are species (specific kinds of plants) where some make pollen (male plants), and others make seeds (female). We call these plants ‘dioecious.’ For example, coastal spinifex grasses live on many beaches around Sydney. They are dioecious, and the male and female plants make quite different flowers. The female plants make flowers that look like little tumbleweeds. These are an example of flowers that do not make pollen.

Spinifex flowers

Also, a little extra note. Flowers are not the only things that do make pollen! Some plants don’t make flowers, and instead make cones. And these cones often do make pollen. In these plants, the pollen is often carried between plants by the wind, rather than by little animals that are attracted to flowers. Probably for this reason, some of these plants such as pines make a LOT of pollen.

Thanks to the students at Double Bay Public School for such an interesting question and to Dr Jason Bragg for proving this reply.

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