Basic Botany for Beginners ~ Four Whorls of the Flower


Are you excited by the rainbow of little plants springing up and blossoming where you live?

Ever wish you could identify them?

Plant identification is a helpful (and really fun) skill for anyone interested in using plants for food and medicine, as well as for folks who simply enjoy their beauty. The closer you look, the more fascinating they become! A good field guide is always handy, but to fully unlock its usefulness, you need some basic understanding of plant structures.

All month long, I’ll be sharing tips, mini-lessons, and my field sketches to help you take a closer look at the lovely flowers all around. You’ll learn how to differentiate plant parts, recognize common family characteristics, examine fruits, and add some important terms to your botanical vocabulary. So, with that said, first things first…


The Four Whorls of the Flower


Basic Botany for Beginners ~ Four Whorls of the Flower

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In most cases, using a plant’s flower will be the best way to reach proper identification. Looking for these four important flower parts and noting their number, shape, and color will help you determine the plant’s genus or even the species. While this can sometimes be tricky, the more you practice examining different kinds of flowers, the easier it will be to figure out what’s what.


Whorl 1 

CalyxThe outermost whorl of the flower made up of sepals. Sepals are often green and enclose the flower bud. They can sometimes be petal-like and showy.


Whorl 2

CorollaThe whorl of petals. Petals are often colorful or showy and range in shape. It’s good to note that petals can be totally absent from some species of flowers. 


Whorl 3

StamensThe pollen producing organ of the flower comprised of a stalk called a filament that is topped by an anther.


Whorl 4

PistilThe innermost organ of a flower consisting of the ovary, style, and stigma. A pollen cell sticks to the stigma, develops a pollen tube and travels down the style to fertilize the ovary which then produces fruit.



Basic Botany for Beginners ~ Four Whorls of the Flower


You are now ready to become an investigator of inflorescences!

Grab a hand lens or jewelers loupe and prepare for the botanical adventures to begin.

More basic botany to come…

~ Erin


3 Responses to “Basic Botany for Beginners ~ Four Whorls of the Flower”

  1. Hey Thanks for this. When I go to my home in WY in the summer I usually plan for a hike with the WY Native Plant Society (Teton Chapter) and try to remember all the info. the botanists tell me. Even have some books but need a loupe. I have always been fascinated by plants but fail to remember the botany. Just need to memorize I guess – I am the same with names too though. Anyway always fun to discover and look for the beauty that comes out every year. This is very cool and will help. Thank you. Word for the day Whorls!

  2. avatar NancyLee says:

    To SagebrushNancy – You are not alone. I try to remember the info but it seems like so much pressure so then I can’t just enjoy the plants. So I won’t try to remember anymore. Just enjoy and maybe some of this will stick. And it’s fun to read these quick, simple explanations.

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    Erin is the Marketing Director at Mountain Rose and studied herbalism, botany, and ethical wildcrafting at the Columbines School of Botanical Studies. She spends her days making botanical illustrations, playing in the garden, creating culinary gems, and formulating medicine in the magnificent Oregon Cascades.
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