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How Vegetables Are Pollinated: Open Pollination and Hybrids

Posted May 20 2009 9:28am

Vegetables are pollinated in two basic ways: self pollination and cross pollination.


Self pollinators are plants that produce flowers that are usually fertilized by their own pollen, commlonly when the male and female flower parts are contained within the same flower.


Cross pollinators are plants with flowers that require pollen from another flower (a male flower on the same plant--thus a form of self-pollination--or from another plant) to produce a fertilized seed. Cross pollinators commonly require the help of insects or the wind to achieve pollination.


Self-pollinated vegetablesinclude: bush and pole beans, lima beans, chicory, endive, lettuce, English and Southern peas, and tomatoes.


Wind-pollinated vegetablesinclude: beets, chard, sweet corn, and spinach.


Insect-pollinated vegetablesinclude: asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, Chinese cabbage, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, gourds, kale, kohlrabi, muskmelons, mustard, okra, onions, parsley, parsnip, hot pepper, pumpkin, radish, rutabaga, spinach, squashes, turnips, and watermelon.


How a vegetable is pollinated is important if you want to grow plants that are true-to-type, meaning the same as the parent plant: for example, if you want the same fruit size, color, shape, and flavor, the same plant height or growing habit, the same days to maturity and harvest. If a vegetable is cross pollinated by a plant that is not the same strain or variety, it will not grow true-to-type.

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