Important Differences between Sepals and Petals

The reproductive structures of flowering plants are flowers and have different structures, such as sepals, petals, carpel, stamen. The male reproductive structures of flowers are stamens, while carpels form the female reproductive structures of flowers. Carpels comprise ovary, style, and stigma, while the stamens comprise filament and anther.

Flowers are complete when they have pistils, stamen, petals and sepals. On the other hand, a flower is incomplete when one or more of these parts are missing. If a flower misses petals, the condition is called apetalous and if a flower lacks sepals, the condition is called asepalous. Together, the calyx and the corolla constitute the non-reproductive portion of the flower – perianth.

The key difference between sepals and petals is that the sepal forms a part of the calyx, the outermost whorl while petals constitute the corolla, the inner whorl to sepals.

Sepals

  • These are leaf-like structures enclosing the bud of the flower
  • Can be seen at the lower part of the flower
  • It protects and folds over the closed buds from the external surrounding
  • Usually, a flower has 2-5 sepals
  • Sepals are collectively called calyx – the outermost whorls of flowers

Petals

  • These are modified leaves surrounding the reproductive structures of flowers
  • These are unusually shaped or brightly coloured attracting pollinators
  • Collectively, all the petals are called the corolla
  • Often, petals comprise two sections – the broader upper part resembling the leaf blade (blade) and the narrow lower part like the leaf petiole (claw)

Key differences between Sepals and Petals

The table below depicts the differences between Sepals and Petals.

Sepals

Petals

What are they?

Encloses petals, these are leaf-shaped structures found in flowering plants. They form the parts of the flower’s calyx, usually green

Usually coloured, these are modified leaves forming each of the segments of the flower’s corolla

Appearance

Green in colour, and are leaf-like

Bright-coloured petaloids

What do they form?

Calyx

Corolla

Where are they found?

The outermost whorls of a flower

Forms whorls inner to the sepals

Other names

Flowers lacking sepals – asepalous

Flowers lacking apetalous

Collective name

Calyx

Corolla

Nature of Gamosepalous and Polysepalous

Gamosepalous – United sepals

Polysepalous – Free sepals

Gamosepalous – United petals

Polysepalous – Free petals

Function

Safeguards the inner structures of flower buds in the bud stage

In pollination, it attracts pollinators. It also protects the inner whorls, stamen and pistil.

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