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Anthers of Vallota

Click on either of the images to see the fully expanded version.

The anther is the structure which bears the pollen grains, i.e. the male reproductive cells.  It develops as a separate structure at the tip of the stamen filament.  This process is part of the complex sequence of events that comprises floral development.

The pollen grains develop within the anther.  When the whole structure reaches maturity (usually just before the flower opens) the anther dehisces, i.e. it splits down one side and effectively turns inside out, so that the pollen grains are exposed on what is now the outside surface.

Fig. 1 shows several anthers which have dehisced and everted, displaying the yellow pollen grains now on the outside.  One anther (green asterisk) is barely full dehisced, part of the original outer surface still being visible.

Fig.  2  is a 3-dimensional composite optical micrograph of slightly more than one half of an anther.  The entire structure is ca. 5 mm long and ca. 1.4 mm diameter.  The micrograph was created by Z-stacking (for more information, follow the link).

The individual pollen grains, shaped like wheat grains, are ca. 70 µ long and 30 - 40 µ in diameter.  To the right of the micrograph (red asterisk) is a surviving area of the anther epidermis which appears to be just on the point of rupturing.

Click here to see micrograph of stigma surface.