Although flowers are valued by most people primarily for their fragrance and beauty, they also have an important role in the reproductive process of plants. A flower connects to the rest of the plant by a structure known as a receptacle. Receptacles come in various shapes and have different functions.
The receptacle is the base of the flower, where other parts of the plant attach. When viewing a typical flower, the receptacle is the section of the flower stalk from which flower petals grow. Although the shape can vary, the receptacle generally has a thickened disc shape. The receptacle is sometimes called a floral axis or torus.
One of the most obvious functions of the receptacle is to physically support the flower. The receptacle also protects the plant's ovules, the part that produces the female reproductive organs of a flowering plant. The structural form of the receptacle influences the type and shape of flower that develops.
There are three main types of receptacles in botany. Hypogenous placement, also called a superior ovary, is most common receptacle arrangement for flowers. Here, the ovaries of the plant are located above the disc-shaped receptacles. In epigynous placement, the ovaries are embedded inside the receptacles and appear cup shaped. An epigynous receptacle is also known as an inferior ovary. Perigynous placement occurs when a tube-shaped structure emerges from the receptacle but does not attach to the surrounding ovary wall. Like epigynous receptacles, perigynous receptacles are cup shaped.
On many plants, the receptacle develops into the fleshy, edible part of the fruit. In this arrangement, the receptacle and ovary wall grow into the fruit. When you eat an apple or pear, for example, you are consuming the receptacle of the plant. The core of the fruit is the ovary wall. Whereas the receptacle of a blackberry detaches from the plant when the fruit is picked, it remains attached to a raspberry plant, resulting in the "hole" in the center of the berry. The fleshy part of a strawberry is also a receptacle.
- Texas A&M Bioinformatics Working Group: A Complete Angiosperm Flower
- Botanical-Online: The Flower: The Function
- "Morphology of Flowers and Inflorescences"; Focko Weberling; 1992
- Valencia Community College: Flowers
- Marietta College: Reproduction of Flowering Plants: From Flowers to Fruits
- Ohio State University at Mansfield; Supplemental Lecture; Stephen T. Abedon; May 1997
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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