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Basic Terms


This online guide was designed to limit the need for complicated genetic terms. The following terms provide a basic understanding of seeds and seed production.

Seeds are living, hibernating embryos. They have a life span and survive longest if kept cool, dark and dry.

Flowers are the portions of plants where reproduction takes place and seeds are produced.

Pistils are the female reproductive organs in flowers made up of the stigma, style and ovary. The stigma is the opening in the pistil through which the pollen passes on its way to the ovary. The style contains the pollen tube between the stigma and the ovary through which the pollen is carried. The ovary contains ovules. When fertilized, ovules develope into mature seeds.

Stamens are the male reproductive organs in flowers. They consist of the filament, anther and pollen. A filament is the tube that supports the anther where pollen is produced. Pollen is the equivalent of sperm in plants. Pollen grains fertilize plant ovules.

Pollination is the process of sexual fertilization in plants. The different methods a flower uses for pollination will dictate the spacing or isolation necessary for plants to produce dependable seeds.

Self-pollination occurs without need for other flowers or plants because it takes place within the flower before it opens. Isolation distance to prevent cross -pollination is not necessary unless insects invade the flowers.

Perfect flowers contain the stamens which produce pollen and the pistil which receives the pollen. Some self-pollinate. Others are self-incompatible, meaning they will not receive their own pollen.

Cross-pollination takes place when pollen is exchanged between different flowers on the same or different plants. If not prevented, unwanted characteristics and traits may result in the offspring.

Isolation distance to prevent unwanted cross-pollination is the distance between two different flowers necessary to prevent pollen from being exchanged. Wind pollination is pollen exchange caused by wind and insect pollination is pollen exchange caused by insects, primarily bees.

Hybrids are varieties resulting from pollination between genetically distinct parents. The "F" in F1 hybrid stands for filial, another name for offspring. F1 means the first generation offspring after pollination. Depending on their genetic complexity, F1 Hybrids can be sterile or produce a majority of offspring unlike themselves.

Open-pollinated varieties are stable varieties resulting from the pollination between the same or genetically similar parents. Not hybrid.

Monecious plants produce single plants with separate male flowers and female flowers on the same plant.

Dioecious plants produce separate male flowers and female flowers on different plants.

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