Wheat, which is one of the main staple food crops in the world, is wind-pollinated or self-pollinated. Self pollination is the deposition of pollen grains from the anther of a flower on the stigma of the same flower or on of a different flower in the same plant.
The flowers of wheat do not attract insects or animals for the purpose of pollination as they have no colorful petals, nectar, or attractive odors. However, they produce a large number of pollen grains. Wheat flowers are very small and have long stamens and pistils to facillitate wind pollination.
Key Areas Covered
Key Terms: Pollen Grain, Small Flowers, Wheat, Wind
What is Wheat
Wheat is a widely cultivated grass for its seed. The seed of wheat is a cereal grain that is used as a staple food. The most widely grown wheat is the common wheat. Wheat is used as an important source of carbohydrates. It also serves as a leading source of vegetal proteins as its protein content is about 13%. Gluten is the main protein component in wheat. However, wheat is an incomplete source of proteins. It is a good source of dietary fibers as well. Wheat is shown in figure 1.
How Does Wheat Pollinate
Since wheat is a grass, it is mainly pollinated by the wind. Several adaptations can be identified in wheat flower in order to get pollinated by the wind. They are described below.
- Wheat flowers are very small. Since insects or animals do not come to the flower for pollination, the size of the flower is not an essential factor for pollination.
- Wheat flowers do not have large petals or other flower structures required to attract insects or animals.
- Wheat flowers also do not have nectar or scents. Most flowering plants that are pollinated by insects and animals use nectar and scents to attract their pollinating agents to the flower. Since wheat flower is pollinated by the wind, it lacks nectar and scents.
- Wheat flower consists of special parts to catch pollen from the air. The petals are very small in wheat flowers. Both stamen and pistil are long. The stigma is sticky and feathery to capture pollen grains.
- Individual reproductive structures of wheat flowers are arranged into units called spikelets. Many spikelets are packed together to form a structure called wheat sheath, which is located at the top of the plant.
- Wheat produces a large number of pollen grains to increase the effectiveness of pollination. Moreover, pollen of wheat is comparatively small, facilitating the flow of the pollen grains along with the wind.
Wheat produces a cereal grain, which is widely used as a staple food. Since wheat is a grass, its pollination occurs with the help of wind. Wheat flowers show several adaptations in order to be pollinated by the wind.
1. Layne, Elizabeth. “How Are Grasses Pollinated? Hunker.com, 12 May 2011, Available here.