In the flowering plants
, an ovary
is a part of the female reproductive organ of the flower or gynoecium
. Specifically, it is the part of the carpel
which holds the ovule
(s) and is located above or below or at the point of connection with the base of the petals
. In this picture of a zucchini
the petals and sepals are above the ovary and such a flower is said to have an inferior ovary; also referred to as epigynous. Above the ovary is the style
and the stigma
, which is where the pollen
lands and germinates to grow down through the style to the ovary, and, for each individual pollen grain
, to grow into one individual ovule. Some wind pollinated flowers have much reduced and modified ovaries. The carpel together with all the female components including ovules, placental tissue, style and stigma are called gynoecium
. The carpel is considered to be a modified leaf. A pea shell is a good example of a carpel and shows the genetic and morphological relationship to a leaf.
is the ripened ovary—together with seeds
—of a flowering plant. In many species, the fruit incorporates the ripened ovary and surrounding tissues. The fruits of a plant are responsible for dispersing the seeds that contain the embryo and protecting the seeds as well.
The terminology of the positions of ovaries is determined by the insertion point, where the other floral parts (perianth and androecium) come together and attach to the surface of the ovary. If the ovary is situated above the insertion point, it is superior; if below, inferior.
A superior ovary
is an ovary attached to the receptacle above the attachment of other floral parts. A superior ovary is found in types of fleshy fruits such as true berries
, etc. A flower with this arrangement is described as hypogynous
. An example is Hypericum calycinum
An ovary becomes superior during anthesis (flower formation) when the upper portion of the ovary grows more than the lower part.
An inferior ovary
lies below the attachment of other floral parts. Pome
is a type of fleshy fruit, that may be cited as an example. The flower of Fuchsia
has an inferior ovary.
Such flowers are termed epigynous
A half-inferior ovary
(also known as “half-superior”, “subinferior,” or “partially inferior,”) is embedded or surrounded by the receptacle.
Such flowers are termed perigynous
. In some classifications, half-inferior ovaries are not recognized and are instead grouped with either the superior or inferior ovaries.
More specifically, a half-inferior ovary has nearly equal portions of ovary above and below the insertion point. Other varying degrees of inferiority can be described by other fractions. For instance, a "one-fifth inferior ovary" has approximately one fifth of its length under the insertion point. Likewise, only one quarter portion of a "three-quarters inferior ovary" is above the insertion.