Saturday, July 6, 2013

Squash Have Gender - Apples Are Hermaphrodites.

Still working on the focus. You get the picture?
Don't report me! 
Big, fat cucumber ovary!
The picture to the left is not what you think it is!  It is the girl parts of a luffa sponge.  Yep, the GIRL parts.  The boy parts don't look like that!  The boy flowers are just flowers, usually in a group on the end of a stem.  They produce pollen that is helped by bees and wind to get to the female flower.  The female shown on the left hasn't bloomed yet.  The flower bud is the tear-shaped thing on the end; the shaft underneath is the ovary.  Once the female flower is fertilized, its beauty will fade.  This is nature's way.  People like Heidi Klum are aliens.  It's unnatural to...

reproduce and still look like that.  On plants, the flower falls off and the ovary swells to become the fruit of the plant.  In this case that would be a luffa sponge.

Roses have the pollen and the stigma too.  In fact they have it ALL.  Wink. Wink.  Bet you didn't know they are hermaphrodites, did you?  Well those Ancient Greeks had to get the idea from somewhere to make up that word! 

Loads of plants are in the rose family: apples and anything that resembles an apple.  Like a pear or a pomegranate.   They have got it all in one flower too.  They can self-pollinate.  (It doesn't cause blindness like they said in Catholic school.)  That is one of the reasons they are such dependable fruit producers. 
Stamen & stigma in a daylilly.

That's right, roses are dependable fruit producers.  I never thought I'd use anything I learned in high school, but here goes:  The bottom of the flower, the ovary, swells into a rose "hip."  In some varieties it is easy to see the resemblance to an apple.  In others, you have to look hard for it.  I feel the same way about my relatives.  Unfortunately the ones I want to resemble are the ones I don't.

Seriously, make your kids read this.  I guess biology isn't required in school these days because the people who show up to work at the farm know nothing.  Often times, I can't even give them directions without a half hour lesson in plant biology.  They learn some colorful new words!

So when your kid becomes a know-it-all teenager and you talk me into giving him/her a job, they better know this shit.  What I have written on this screen, they better know.  That is the only thing that is going to save them when they "slept through the alarm" AGAIN!  If they can't tell a fertilized flower from a dead one, They. Are. Toast.  As you might imagine, I will discharge them with some creative phrases they will remember into Social Security.  Spare them.  Make them read these blog entries:
How daisies Have Babies and Why Grocery Eggs Won't Hatch
How to Plant a Tomato
Cousin Betty Grows Tomatoes
OMG! More potatoes!
  I'm telling you all this to help you make better gardening choices and to help you if you ever get a job at a farm or garden center. Or if your kids drop out of college and think they are going to work for me. 


  1. Very cool post. It's hard to convey such technical information in a fun way. And though informative as all get out, after reading all the naughty words here I feel the need to go to confessional.

    1. Ha ha! I only used the sh.. word once. The other words are perfectly biological! If teenagers are going to pay attention, it has to be entertaining!

    2. I hear you. I teach at a community college and goodness knows I've gotta make it (the subject is accounting, yikes!) entertaining or there's no chance at all that they'll retain anything.