Biology » Plant Reproduction » Pollination and Fertilization

Pollination by Wind

Pollination by Wind

Most species of conifers, and many angiosperms, such as grasses, maples and oaks, are pollinated by wind. Pine cones are brown and unscented, while the flowers of wind-pollinated angiosperm species are usually green, small, may have small or no petals, and produce large amounts of pollen. Unlike the typical insect-pollinated flowers, flowers adapted to pollination by wind do not produce nectar or scent.

In wind-pollinated species, the microsporangia hang out of the flower, and, as the wind blows, the lightweight pollen is carried with it (see the figure below). The flowers usually emerge early in the spring, before the leaves, so that the leaves do not block the movement of the wind. The pollen is deposited on the exposed feathery stigma of the flower (see the figure below).

 Photo shows a person knocking a cloud of pollen from a pine tree.

A person knocks pollen from a pine tree.

 Photo A shows the long, thin flower male of the white willow, which has long, hair-like appendages jutting out all along its length. Photo  B shows the female flower from the same plant. The shape is similar, but the hair-like appendages are missing.

These male (a) and female (b) catkins are from the goat willow tree (Salix caprea). Note how both structures are light and feathery to better disperse and catch the wind-blown pollen.

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