Thursday, February 15, 2018

February Words of the Month: Monoecious and Dioecious by Carol King

In honor of St. Valentine’s Day and an homage to love in the garden, the February horticulture word of the month is actually two words: ”dioecious” and “monoecious"; terms that refer to plant reproduction. The pronunciation for the two words is “dahy-EE-shuhs” and “muh-Nee-shuhs”.

A monoecious plant is one that can reproduce (that is, bloom and set seed) all on its own. Monoecious is translated as “single house,” meaning that male and female flowers are found on a single individual plant. It does not need a partner: a single plant bears both male and female flowers. Examples of monoecious plants are birch, hazelnut, oak, pine, spruce, corn, and squashes.

Some monoecious plants have blooms that are bisexual. Each individual bloom has both male and female parts. The process of reproduction occurs right within the individual flowers. These are sometimes referred to as "perfect" flowers. Examples of plants with perfect flowers include apples, cherries and legumes.

A dioecious plant needs two separate plants for reproduction. Dioecious is translated as “double house” meaning male flowers are on one plant and female flowers are on another plant. You must have at least one corresponding male plant growing in or around your landscape for the fruit-bearing female plants to be pollinated. A few examples of common dioecious landscape plants: yew, poplar, willow, ash, mulberry, holly, juniper, pepper trees, pistachio, red maple, box elder, aspen, currant, sumac, Osage orange, sassafras, and bay laurel.

Both type of plants need outside help in order to pollinate. They rely on animals or the wind to pollinate them. 
  • Animal pollination: birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. 
  • Wind pollination; the process of the transfer of pollen from one individual plant to another, by air currents. Grasses, grains like corn, and pines and conifers are examples.
More in depth articles about plant reproduction can be found here: