Pollination Process -

Food and Plant Fertilization

The pollination process transfers a reproductive cell (called a gamete/s) to the reproductive cell of the opposite sex for fertilization.

It all starts with pollen, or male gametes, found on the stamen of the flower. This pollen powder has a strong protective outer coating so it can be carried long distances to the female gametes of the flower, called a pistil.

The picture shows the stamen with the yellow powder. The larger thick stem in the center is the Pistil.

Flower stigma, pistil and pollen

Breezes and winds carry about 20% of pollen. This method of transfer is called anemophilous, which translates to mean 'wind-loving'. The other 80% of pollen transfer relies on the process entomophilous, which means 'insect-loving'. Butterflies are known to be second to bees for pollinating.

Flowers attract butterflies, other insects and animals because of their bright colors and strong scents.

Insects seeking nectar get a great deal of pollen on them which they then carry from flower to flower while feeding.

Herbivores and omnivores feeding on flowers and plants carry pollen when they brush on the flower.  This includes humans.

Transfer is usually accidental, but can be intentional through various methods of propagation.

'Bee Pollen'
In-vitro pollination

Water also transfers pollen. It could be trough rain, watering with a garden hose, puddles or more extensive pools of water.

Notice the size of the male gametes (pollen) compared to the female gametes (pistil). 

The pistil/style is the long yellow-green tube and the orange pollen is sitting on the top part of pistil, which is called a stigma.

Flower pollen and pistil

If the pollen lands on a flowering plant where both sex cells are compatible, fertilization can occur. A pollen tube is produced leading to the ovules. The sperm transfers down the Style to a receptive ovary.

Germination begins. This is the stage where new life begins from a seed, including weeds and the germination of weed seeds.


You may see both Gamete or Gametes in books when reading about the pollination process. The terms are Greek and are often used interchangeably. The literal translation for gamete is 'wife'. The literal translation for gametes is 'husband'.

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