Although still very old ( as in 125 million years ! ) flowering plants are considered “modern”.  This is because they produce a seed inside a vessel. Unlike their ancestors, they also produce a flower containing both male and female reproductive structures.

Flowering plants evolved into two main groups. Monocotyledons and dicotyledons. A cotyledon is the number of parts in a seed. Beans have two halves and thus are dicots. Corn is a monocot.





Monocots have parallel leaf venation and and usually fibrous root systems.


Their flower parts are arranged in sets of threes.  The stems are rarely woody and not in a cylindrical cluster in the center –  like in trees. They are instead arranged scattered across the stem.



The most common groups of monocots are orchids, grasses, sedges, palms and aroids.


Common Trillium – flower parts in threes !


There are approximately 60,000 species of monocots.  The most economically important of all plant families – is the Poaceae (true grasses).


Rice !


Other prominent monocot families include orchids, lilies, palms and Irises.


Cymbidium orchid


Grasses do NOT have much secondary growth occurring on their upright branches. Also, shorter heights and thinner stems. As they mature and get taller, it is not possible to prune them in the conventional way.  Unlike other hardwood plants, these will usually not produce new shoots from cut branches (except some bamboo). To get new shoots many times one has to cut them down to the ground.  New shoots form from a centered clump that radiates outwards in all directions. Eventually, the clumps creates a hollow center.

In agriculture, the majority of the plants produced comes from monocotyledons. These include; rice, wheat, corn, sugar cane, forage grasses, bamboo, palms, bananas, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, asparagus, pineapple, leeks, onions, and garlic.

Onions !

Additionally, most of the horticultural bulbs cultivated for their blooms are monocotyledons.  Included in them are lilies, daffodils, irises, amaryllis, cannas, bluebells and tulips !

Tulips, daffodils, muscari and hyacinth bulbs




Dicots have a netted leaf venation with a main taproot system.  Its flower parts come in fours or fives (or multiples), and “sepals” protect the flower.  The wood is in rings and compressed into the center of the stem. Needless to say, there are exceptions in all these categories. However, they comprise more that 75% of all flowering plants and evolved in every environment imaginable. About 50 percent of all dicot species are woody and branching of stems is common.


Hibiscus – a typical dicot flower


Prominent dicot families are many !  Some are used for their fragrance oils like eucalyptus, and tea tree.  Many are good to eat too ! citrus, buckthorn, legumes, peas, cabbages, kale, broccoli, celery, parsley, and mint! And many just for their flowers :daisy, protea, euphorbia, mimosa, ranunculus, clematis.


Flower parts in sets of Five !


Take a closer look at a flower – can you tell if its a monocot or a dicot ?

or cross cut open an apple and count the chambers that hold the seeds. 

What do you see ?


If you want your garden full of flowers – Call Plant Specialists TODAY !

We have experts that know what to plant !

Don’t delay – the sooner the better !







Article written by our Staff Horticulturist, Peter B Morris, BSc, MSc, MBA

All photographs used with permission @SHUTTERSTOCK