Perianth: what it is and function

The perianth is the name given to the set of sterile elements that make up the floral envelope. Don’t be scared by this botanical terminology. The perianth is nothing more than the union of the modified leaves, known as petals and sepals that attract your attention. It is the colored area that varies, depending on the species, in shape, color, size, arrangement, etc. 

Interesting: Amazing flowers with animal shapes

What is the perianth and its types

The perianth is called the structure made up of modified leaves or floral whorls that are responsible for surrounding and protecting the sexual organs of the flower. As a peculiarity with respect to the rest of the flower parts, the perianth stands out for being sterile parts . However, this fact does not mean that they are one of the fundamental pieces for pollination. Moreover, it is precisely thanks to its colors, shapes and arrangement that it attracts the arrival of pollinating agents, such as insects and other animals. The perianth is made up of two parts:

  • Calyx : it is the most external part and it is made up of the sepals . It is generally green in color and has an appearance similar to modified leaves. Also, each sepal can have a shape or utility depending on the type of flower. From the creation of villi, to the ability to detach once the flower is fully open. definition of perianth example flowers
  • Corolla : inner part of the perianth composed of the petals . Its color and shape is usually much more striking than that of the sepals to attract insects and other animals responsible for promoting pollination.

In addition, the perianth is one of the flower parts of complete flowers, which is why it is a distinctive element for its classification. Therefore, we can classify flowers into:

  • Aperianted : flower that lacks a perianth and that have bracts to protect the sexual organs. They are also known as bare or acclamideous flowers. Examples of them are the corn flower or the willow flower.
  • Periantates : flower that presents perianth also called dressed flower or chlamydeas. Most of the flowers that exist are perianted.

Also, bearing in mind that most of the flowers we know have a perianth, we can make another division according to type:

  • Monoclamideas : known as apetalous flowers as they only have a calyx. As a general rule, the sepals and petals have the same coloration. definition of perianth example flowers
  • Dichlamids : in this case the flower has two floral whorls , calyx and corolla, which may have the same color petals and sepals, also known as homochlamid flowers, or with differences between them, giving rise to the group of heterochlamids.

The main function of the perianth is to protect the reproductive organs of the flower , that is, to ensure that both the gynoecium and the androecium are protected from climatic changes and other external agents. However, we can also differentiate the functions of the perianth in each of its parts:

  • Chalice: it is the protective part par excellence. It is responsible for protecting the rest of the floral whorls, in many cases using trichomes, tannins and other waxy secretions that help keep danger firm and at bay. In many cases, the calyx has spines, hairs and other structures that facilitate the protection and dispersal of the seeds .
  • Corolla: its main function is to attract pollinators to ensure reproduction. This is achieved by means of a striking coloration or by the expulsion of an attractive aroma.

Flowers with perianth

The vast majority of flowers you know have a perianth. In fact, it is normal that flowering plants are generally called those that have a clear presence of sepals, petals and even tepals that help us recognize the different species. In this way we can say that both roses, carnations or poppies have a perianth, as happens with the flowers of fruit trees, such as apple or orange trees. We also find succulent plants, such as aloe , with perianth flowers or aromatic plants, such as lavender or juniper, which also have it. Surely, many of the plants you have in your home, garden or nearest park have, for the most part, flowering plants with perianths, such as geraniums, oleanders, calla lilies or jasmine among many other varieties. Even some epiphytes, such as orchids , boast flowers with perianths. definition of perianth example flowers

The easiest way to fully understand this concept is to observe the plants around you to discover what type of flowers they present during their flowering season. We invite you to distinguish them for yourself and thus begin to apply all this knowledge of botany in your day to day.

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