Home   Dicots   Carpels, pistil, ovary, ovules, Uncle Tom Cobley and all!

Carpels, pistil, ovary, ovules, Uncle Tom Cobley and all!

To key plant families, for example using the Book of Stace, it is very important to understand the structure of the flower very precisely, how many perianth whorls (e.g. petals and sepals), how many stamens (male parts – the androecium) and how many carpels, stigmas, and so on (female parts – the gynoecium).

One source of confusion is what exactly are the carpels and the ovary and ovules?

Dr M found a website from University of Western Cape which does quite a good job explaining these potentially confusing terms.

flower game

You can play this build a flower game to check your understanding of flower structure!

Then you can read more about flowers.

Contact Dr M if you find other useful resources explaining flower structure.

Dr M’s linguistic note: The phrase Uncle Tom Cobley and all is used in English as a humorous way of saying “et al.” often to express exasperation at the large number of people (or things!) in a list.




  • Peter

    There’s a book (I think we used in the undergraduate Part 1 Plant Diversity module) by Adrian D. Bell called “Plant Form: An Illustrated Guide to Plant Morphology”. It has very clear diagrams which makes them fairly easy to understand. ISBN: 0-19-854219-4 (paperback). Might be worth a look!

    • DrM

      Yes, Adrian Bell was a lecturer at Bangor when I was an undergraduate there many years ago! He was very good at explaining plant morphology so I will check his book, thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *