There are many thousands of different species of flowering plants on Earth. They come in a vast range of shapes and sizes, but they all share a similar lifecycle.
1 - Seed
A plant starts out in the form of a seed. The seed acts as a food reserve for the growing plant, before it can start making its own food. The seed can stay dormant for a very long time until conditions are just right.
2 - Germination
Under the correct external conditions, a seed undergoes the process of germination - a shoot breaks through the seed casing.
3 - Root growth
Roots also begin to grow out of the seed, growing downwards into the soil. Plant roots can detect gravity, so that they know which direction to grow in, in order to extract water and nutrients from the soil.
4 - Shoot Growth
The shoot grows upwards and breaks through the soil to find the light.
5 - Leaves and Photosynthesis
Here, the plant can grow its first leaves, and start to photosynthesize - converting energy from the sun into sugars. This small plant with only its first few leaves is called a seedling.
6 - A Growing Plant
Over time, the plant grows, using the energy it extracts from the sun, and water and other nutrients such as minerals, extracted by the roots from the soil. The plant grows into an adult. Plants do not have deterministic growth - there is no particular shape or size that a plant grows into, but their shape and size is determined by environmental conditions.
7 - Flowers
When a plant is ready to reproduce, it grows flowers. Flowers contain the male and female reproductive parts of the plant.
8 - Pollination
Pollination occurs to fertilise the plant, and produce more seeds.
9 - Seed Dispersal
These seeds, when ready, are dispersed into the environment, so that they can themselves grow into new plants.