Types of Imperfect Flowers


Flowers appear to be "perfect" when delivered to your door with a sweet love note, but a true "perfect" flower has both male and female parts. Does that mean an "imperfect" flower smells any less sweet? Not necessarily, but it is a little more complicated than that.

What are Imperfect Flowers?

  • Imperfect flowers have either male parts or female parts. If a plant is monoecious, both male and female parts are on the same plant, but the parts are not contained within the same flower; otherwise, it would be perfect.

Imperfect Monoecious Flowers

  • For example, corn is monoecious because both male and female parts are on the same plant, but the male flower parts are on the tassel while the female flower parts are on the ear of corn. Other examples are birch and walnut.

The Other Monecious Plants

  • Because plants are so complicated, there are also monoecious plants, such as cucumber and squash, that will produce only male flowers at the beginning of the growing season, and then will eventually produce both male and female flowers.

Imperfect Dioecious Flowers

  • If a plant is dioecious, the imperfect male flower lives on one plant, while the imperfect female flower lives on a different plant. That means one plant is male, while another plant is female. If you want the plants to produce fruit, you need to plant the male and female plants within close proximity so that pollination can take place. Examples of imperfect dioecious flowers include American holly, hemp, hazelnut, hops, ginkgo, pistachio and boxelder.

The Other Dioecious Flowers

  • Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. The kiwi produces some perfect flowers, with both male and female parts, and can also produce imperfect flowers, with just male parts.


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