How Does Broccoli Reproduce?

••• Ohio State University Extension

Introduction

Broccoli in bloom

Broccoli, a biennial member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, along with cabbage and Brussels sprouts, relies on sexual reproduction just like other fruits and vegetables do.

Parts of a broccoli flower

There are thousands of tiny flowers in a head of broccoli

If you look closely at broccoli that's ready to harvest, you will see a tightly packed head with a rough, lumpy surface and thick compact stems--the familiar look of broccoli that is harvested and sold in stores. The lumpy surface contains thousand of immature flower buds. When the broccoli flowers open, they have petals, stamen, stigma, pistle, ovule and pollen.

Pollination

Broccoli seeds look like mustard seed when harvested

Pollen contains male gametes (sperm), and the ovule contains female gametes (eggs). The two have to be brought together for pollination to take place. Broccoli relies on pollination to reproduce just like other fruits and vegetables do. Pollination takes place when insects or birds attracted by the scent and color of the flowers feed off nectar on the stigma or around the base of the ovule. The insects transfer pollen from the stamens to the stigma, where it fertilizes the female gametes in the ovule.

Gestation to harvest

Parts of a flower--broccoli blossoms have them, too

As the newly fertilized seeds inside the ovule grow, the ovule lengthens into a pod where the seeds will mature after several weeks. Broccoli plants produce dozens of pods, each with eight to 10 small, hard, dark brown seeds inside. The seeds are about the size and shape of brown mustard seeds and have a pleasant peppery taste.

Resources

About the Author

Hilary Cable has been a freelance writer and editor for more than 10 years. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in newspaper journalism from Cal Poly Pomona and an AA in natural sciences from Citrus College in Glendora. Her work has appeared on Business.com, eHow.com and Examiner.com.

Photo Credits

  • Ohio State University Extension