Types of Pollination

The majority of flowering plants reproduce sexually i.e., through seed formation. We know sexual reproduction is incomplete without fertilization. The male and female gametes have to meet for fertilization and further development.  Have you ever wondered how plants ensure their continuity on earth despite their immobile nature? Let us answer the same by having a brief discussion on a process called pollination.

Pollination in Plants

Reproduction is the life process, which helps an organism procreate its own offspring. There are a lot of events involved in this. In plants, pollination is one among them.

Pollination Definition

“Pollination is defined as the pre-fertilization event or process, where pollen grains from anther are transferred to the stigma of a flower.”

Plants are immobile. They can’t copulate with each other by themselves. They need a vector for this. Pollination is the process that helps to unite the male and female gametes and thus helps in fertilization. It can be broadly classified into two, cross-pollination and self-pollination and this is achieved with the help of a variety of vectors/agents. For successful pollinations, it must occur between the same species.

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Types of  Self-pollination  and Cross-pollination

Pollinations can occur either within a flower or between flowers of the same plant or flowers of different plants. Depending on this, pollinations are of three types, namely:


It is a type of self-pollination where the transfer of pollen grains from the anther to the stigma takes place within the same flower. Coordinated opening, maturation and exposure of the anther and stigma are necessary for autogamy. There are two conditions for autogamy to take place:

  • Anther-stigma synchronization; when the pollen is released, stigma should be ready to receive it.
  • The position of or distance between anther and stigma. Both should be close enough for pollination.

In chasmogamous flowers, anther and stigma are exposed. The exposed reproductive parts give a chance of cross-pollination in chasmogamous flowers. While in cleistogamous flowers anther and stigma are not exposed but lie close enough for transfer. Thus, the chances of cross-pollination in cleistogamous flowers are almost none. In addition, they barely require a pollinating agent.

Process of Pollination


Geitonogamy is the type of self-pollination where the transfer of pollen grains from the anther to the stigma takes place between different flowers in the same plant. Though it seems like cross-pollination and takes place with the help of pollinators, both the gametes have the same plant as their origin.


Xenogamy is the cross-pollination where the pollen grain transfer occurs across flowers of two different plants. In other words, the transfer of pollen from the anther of one plant to the stigma of another plant.

Each type of pollination has its own merits. Xenogamy leads to a new variety, whereas autogamy helps to preserve parental characters. Plants have various adaptations to accomplish this task. In addition, flowers depend on certain pollinating agents which can either be biotic or abiotic. These biotic and abiotic pollinating agents are collectively termed pollinators.

Pollinating Agents

Plants utilise both biotic and abiotic agents for pollination.

Biotic agents – Animals, insects, butterflies, etc. Pollination by insects is called entomophily and pollination by birds is called ornithophily. Pollination by vertebrates is known as zoophily.

Abiotic agents – Wind and water. Wind pollination is known as anemophily and pollination by water is called hydrophily.

Learn more about Pollination, its types, and other related topics at BYJU’S Biology

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Frequently Asked Questions


What Is Pollination?

Pollination is a biological process in which the pollen grains are transferred from an anther (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower). There are two types of pollination:

  • Self-Pollination
  • Cross-Pollination

What are the Pollinating Agents? Enlist agents for pollination.

The agents, which are involved in transferring the pollen grains from one flower to another flower are called pollinating agents. Some examples of biotic and abiotic pollinating agents are as follows:

How does Pollination occur in Plants?

There are two different types of pollinations in which the pollen grains are transferred from one flower to another. In both the process, pollen grains are transferred from a stamen to the stigma of the same plant or to a flower of different plants.

Name the plants which undergo Self- pollination?

Plants with smaller flowers use self-pollination. Peanuts, wheat, apricots, rice, tomatoes are some examples of self-pollinating plants.

What Is Self-Pollination?

Self-pollination is referred to as the primary type of pollination, which occurs by transferring the pollen grains directly from the anther into the stigma of the same flower.

What are pollen grains?

Pollen grains are the granular microspores termed as the micro-gametophytes or male gametophytes produced within the anther – male part of the flower.

What is Cross-Pollination?

Cross-Pollination is referred to as the complex type of pollination during which the pollen grains are transferred from the anther of one flower to the stigma of another flower.

Name the plants which undergo Cross pollinations?

Most plants use cross-pollination. Cross-pollination is mainly seen in dark and bright coloured flowering plants, where insects like butterflies and honey bees are attracted by their bright coloured flowers. Apples, tulips, lavender, strawberries, beans, dandelions are some examples of plants with cross-pollination.

Air pollination is mainly observed in?

Wind pollination or anemophily is a type of pollination wherein pollen is transferred by the wind. The majority of plants under the order Poales are anemophilous, rice, wheat, rye, corn, and barley are all wind-pollinated, even gymnosperms. Some of the common anemophilous plants are sweet chestnuts, Oaks, pecans, alders, and members of the Juglandaceae family.

Further Reading:

Artificial Hybridization in Plants

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