The stamen (plural stamina or stamens, from Latin stamen meaning "thread of the warp") is the male organ of a flower. Each stamen generally has a stalk called the filament (from Latin filum, meaning "thread"), and, on top of the filament, an anther (from Ancient Greek anthera, feminine of antheros "flowery," from anthos "flower"), and pollen sacs, called microsporangia. The development of the microsporangia and the contained haploid gametophytes, (called pollen-grains) is closely comparable with that of the microsporangia in gymnosperms or heterosporous ferns. The pollen is set free by the opening (dehiscence) of the anther, generally by means of longitudinal slits, but sometimes by pores, as in the heath family (Ericaceae), or by valves, as in the barberry family (Berberidaceae). It is then dropped, or carried by some external agent — wind, water or some member of the animal kingdom — onto the receptive surface of the carpel of the same or another flower, which is thus pollinated. Typical flowers have six stamens inside a perianth (the petals and sepals together), arranged in a whorl around the carpel (pistil). But in some species there are many more than six present in a flower (see, for example, the spider tree flower, below). Collectively, the stamens are called an androecium (from Greek andros oikia: man's house). They are positioned just below the gynoecium. The anthers are bilocular, i.e. they have two locules. Each locule contains a microsporangium. The tissue between the locules and the cells is called the connective.
In an immature, unopened flower bud, the filaments are still short. Their function is then to transport nutrients to the developing pollen. They start to lengthen once the bud opens. The anther can be attached to the filament in two ways:
Stamens can be connate (fused or joined in the same whorl):
Stamens can also be adnate (fused or joined from more than one whorl):
In some species, however, the flowers are unisexual with only either male or female parts (monoecious = on the same plant; dioecious = on different plants). A flower with only male reproductive parts is called androecious. A flower with only female reproductive parts is called gynoecious.
A flower having only functional stamens is called a staminate flower.
An abortive or rudimentary stamen is called a staminodium, such as in Scrophularia nodosa.