What Is Function of the Pistil in Flowers?

••• Creative Commons photo by Philip Bouchard

The pistil is a flower's female organ. Pistils are typically located in the center of the flower and are surrounded by petals, sepals and stamens. Some flowers, such as the sweet pea, have one simple pistil, while others, including larkspur, have more than five pistils. Flower pistils consist of three parts: the ovary, the style and the stigma. Read on to learn the function of the pistil in flowers.


The pistil typically sticks out beyond the stamens, or a flower's male organs, so that insects can easily brush up against the pistil. This helps transfer pollen and fertilize the seeds in the ovaries.


Ovaries are large, bulbous structures located at the base of the pistil. An ovary holds the undeveloped seeds, called ovules, which are awaiting pollination.

Superior Ovaries

Superior ovaries are ovaries that are attached either above or on the same level as the other floral parts. A superior ovary is more common in flowers of irregular shape, such as orchids.

Inferior Ovaries

An inferior ovary lies below the attachment of the other floral parts. Inferior ovaries are typically found in flowers that have petals all close to the same size.


The stigma is located at the very top of the pistil, and is often found on the tip of the style. The stigma is sticky in order to receive pollen grains.


The style is a long, thin tube that connects the stigma to the ovary so it can receive the pollen grains collected by the stigma.

Photo Credits

  • Creative Commons photo by Philip Bouchard