What is a Bract? (with photo)

Poinsettia is a popular plant in bracts.

A bract is a part of a plant that can resemble a leaf or petal. Structurally, a bract is more similar to a leaf, but is usually slightly different from the plant’s leaves. Some bracts are green, while others are colored. Colored bracts can be brightly colored and are often mistaken for petals.

Bracts can have many shapes, sizes and textures. They can be larger or smaller than the leaves and petals and are generally tougher. Its main function is to protect the flower from pests and bad weather. When a flower first blooms, it is surrounded by thick green bracts. Some plants have two bracts, while others have several. The flower blooms and grows from the bracts, which remain on the plant and form the base of the flower.

A common bratted plant is the poinsettia. In plants such as peanuts and bougainvillea, bracts are often called “false flowers” ​​because the plant’s true flowers are very small and difficult to see. The bracts that surround the flowers in a cluster are called involucres. Poinsettia flowers are small and light green, and grow in the center of the red casing. The bougainvillea flowers are white and the size of a duckweed.

Brightly colored bracts serve to protect the flower and attract pollinating insects. Other common plants with colorful bracts and insignificant flowers include the dogwood, pot plant, and lollipop plant.

In flowers like daisies and sunflowers, the bracts are the green part that attaches the flower to the stem. Bracts of this type are called filaria. In grasses and grains, there are two types of bracts. These types of plants grow with long clusters of flowers, called florets, on top. Each floret eventually contains a seed. The flowers are surrounded by two thin, scaly bracts, with an inner bract called the palea and an outer bract called the lemma. The entire floret is surrounded by green, leaf-like or pointed bracts called glumes.

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Some bracts are adapted for very specific functions. Passion flower bracts are coated with a sticky, acidic substance that traps insects. The acid then breaks down and digests the insects to provide nutrients for the flower. In Lobelia telekii, a tall, conical, furry-looking plant native to the cold alpine regions of Africa, the blue-green skin is composed of bracts that act as insulators.

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