|Flower structure 6 - Maize
aize (Zea mays) The flowers are unisexual,
containing either stamens or ovary but not both.
The long, crowded inflorescences bear flowers of
only one sex. The male inflorescences are on
terminal branches and the female inflorescences are
lower down, on lateral branches. The male flowers
are small, and enclosed by green, leaf-like bracts.
The flowers are in pairs; each pair is called a
spikelet which is enclosed by two bracts. Two
smaller bracts enclose three stamens. When mature,
he anthers hang outside the bracts.
The female inflorescence is completely wrapped
in a small number of leaves and forms the ‘cob’.
The female spikelets are arranged spirally on the
inflorescence stalk. Each flower is enclosed by
thin transparent bracts. The female flower
consists of an ovary with a single ovule, and a long
style which protrudes from the top of the cob.
Maize is a cereal of considerable economic
importance. It is closely related to wild grasses
whose flowers differ from it by having both male
leaf base encircles stem
nd female organs.
to show position of male and
bracts enclosing a pair of flowers and forming a spikelet
Part of male inflorescence
© D.G. Mackean