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I am trying to help my 19 year old in a Biology class. Could you help me and be specific in the differentiation of pollen, male pine cones, female pine cones, and seeds?
Question Date: 2013-09-01
Answer 1:

All seed-baring plants produce pollen. Each pollen grain is a collection of cells, including a reproductive male gamete cell (sperm cell). For successful fertilization of the female gamete cell (the ovule), the pollen grain will create a tube that will then aid the transfer of the sperm cell to the ovule where fertilization can occur.

A seed is a plant ovule, or egg cell that has been fertilized by pollen, and now contains a plant embryo, and in some plants, some stored energy for when the embryo plant starts to grow or “sprout”. When you split open a peanut (the seed of the peanut plant), you can sometimes see the tiny plant embryo, and the rest of the peanut would be the energy source had the peanut continued to grow. Plants with seeds can come from the “Angiosperm” group or the “Gymnosperm” group; the angiosperms, also called the “flowering plants”, have their ovules stored in ovaries (usually contained within flowers), while the gymnosperms have “naked” ovules that are not stored in ovaries. Conifers are in the gymnosperm group.

Most species of conifer have both male and female “pinecones”, existing on the same tree. The most classical “pinecones” we think of are of the female kind, however, female cones can look very different between tree species. The male pinecones on the other hand tend to be small and less conspicuous; they contain pollen sacs stored under leaf-like extensions. The female cone contains ovules that will be fertilized by pollen released by male cones. Once the ovule is fertilized, it will be a seed that can germinate into a new tree under the right conditions.

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