Plant Sex: AKA essential oil formation
How does an essential oil actually form? Let’s talk about plant sex for a minute! I hope it doesn’t offend you, because plant sex is vital to our planets existence! You and I are part of the fertility process and I’ll explain how.
Plants that reproduce sexually are known as flowering plants. They have two distinct sex cells. Male sex cells are in the pollen, and female sex cells are in the ovaries. The start to an essential oils life begins with these two.
How does the plant actually “do it,” resulting in the production of essential oils? Let’s dive in!
Over the summer the sweet-smelling plants were so irresistible you plucked the bloom right from it, lifted the intoxicating smell close to your nose, took in the aroma, ohhhhh it was SO good.
Guess what? This innocent pluck dismembered the reproductive organs of the plant. It’s ok, there’s plenty of plant love in the works.
The “male” portion of the flower is the pollen-loaded stamen. The reproductive parts have fancy names like gametophytes! Pollen is grown in the anther, which is found in the exterior of the flower. Tube cells in the anther become pollen tubes, which then burst open with pollen. Pollen can’t move on it’s own so Mother Nature gets her matchmaking on by using wind, animals, you, me, and water, to carry the male sex cell, pollen, to a sticky female part of the plant called the stigma.
The female gametophytes for flower plants are the ovules, and they are located in the ovaries. Much like the male sex cell, pollen, the ovules are produced through meiosis and they contain half of the plant's genetic code. \
Some flowers only have female or male sex cells, while others have both gametophytes. Hermaphroditic plants are not uncommon. The egg-holding pistil is the “female” part of the plant, the ovaries. The ovaries make up the gynoecium, the outward feature of the flower. It’s made up of the stigma and style along with the ovaries. This three part unit is called the pistil or carpal. The interconnected system creates a tube for the pollen to work its way down to its prize, it’s flower mama, the ovaries! This intricate design of the carpal/stigma is to protect the ovaries from external elements.
Eventually, the pollen grains bump into some eggs, and viola, little baby seeds are born! This begins the journey of a new life form, a baby plant, and ultimately precious essential oils.
Brilliantly designed plants replicate the human body’s physiological makeup. It’s truly awe provoking. Our systems have uncanny similarities. The next article will dive into the basics of plant chemistry, the birth of a new plant, helping our readers understand where essential oils come from and why they work effectively within the human body.