Unit 1 - Structural Units & Functions

Lesson 5: Reproductive Structures

The reproductive structures of a tree include the flowers, cones, fruit, and seeds. All trees produce seeds, which allow them to reproduce.
However, not all trees produce flowers and fruit.

  • In general, deciduous trees are angiosperms. Therefore they produce flowers.

  • Sometimes the flowers of deciduous trees are very conspicuous. Familiar examples include apple and cherry blossoms.

  • Other deciduous trees produce small, inconspicuous flowers that are easily missed. Catkins, pictured at the right, are structures comprised of numerous small flowers. These catkins "bloom" even before the leaves appear in the spring. This allows the pollen to be dispersed easily.

  • Coniferous trees are gymnosperms. They produce neither flowers nor fruit. They produce cones.

  • Most coniferous trees have both male and female cones. The small soft male cones produce pollen. The larger, woody female cones produce eggs and have scales that shelter the seeds until they mature.

  • Remember — coniferous trees are gymnosperms; the seeds are not enclosed by fruit.

Flowers give rise to fruit. We usually associate the term  fruit with produce such as apples, oranges, and pears.
But, botanically speaking, the fruit is the structure of a plant that contains the seeds.
Its function is to aid in seed dispersal.

Some fruits are edible and some are not.
Examples of edible tree fruits include apples, cherries, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and coconuts.

An example of a non-edible tree fruit is the fruit of the maple tree.
Maple tree fruits resemble winged structures that spin like helicopters.
This allows for better wind dispersal of the seeds, which are attached to the winged structures.