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by Claudia Ringler

Cleistogamy is a type of reproduction in plants where the flowers remain closed and self-fertilize without ever opening. This differs from chasmogamy, the typical form of reproduction where flowers open and are fertilized by outside agents such as bees or wind.

The history of cleistogamy dates back to the 19th century, where it was first discovered by Charles Darwin and Joseph Hooker in the genus Viola. Since then, various studies have been conducted to understand the prevalence and evolution of cleistogamy in different plant species across the globe.

Cleistogamous flowers can be found in many countries, including the United States, Canada, and Europe. Some examples of plant species that exhibit cleistogamous reproduction include wild violets, certain species of grasses, and some types of orchids.

The global status of cleistogamy is not well-documented, but studies suggest that it is a common reproductive strategy found in many plant species. According to a study, about 4% of flowering plant species are known to have cleistogamous flowers.

Cleistogamy has several scientific implications. It is believed to be an adaptation that allows plants to reproduce in environments where pollinators or other fertilization agents are scarce. Additionally, cleistogamy can also be seen as a way for plants to ensure self-fertilization and increase their chances of reproduction.


However, there are also potential disadvantages to cleistogamy. Due to the closed nature of the flowers, cleistogamous plants may have reduced opportunities for genetic diversity. Additionally, the closed nature of the flowers also means that they are not visible to pollinators and do not produce nectar, which can negatively impact the surrounding ecosystem.

In terms of nutritional properties, cleistogamous plants have the same nutritional values as chasmogamous plants of the same species. However, due to the closed nature of the flowers, they are often not considered as a food source for animals or humans.

There are several scientific concerns related to cleistogamy. One of the main concerns is the potential for reduced genetic diversity in cleistogamous populations. Additionally, the closed nature of the flowers can also lead to reduced opportunities for cross-fertilization and hybridization.

In terms of management, factors such as environmental conditions and competition for resources can play a role in the prevalence of cleistogamy in a given plant population. Studies have also shown that cleistogamy can be influenced by the presence of certain environmental stressors such as drought or high temperatures.


There are many plant species that exhibit cleistogamous reproduction. Some examples include:

  1. Wild violets (Viola spp.)
  2. Certain species of grasses, such as annual bluegrass (Poa annua) and creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera)
  3. Some types of orchids, such as the common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)
  4. The Pansy (Viola tricolor)
  5. The common chickweed (Stellaria media)
  6. The common hedge mustard (Sisymbrium officinale)
  7. The common speedwell (Veronica persica)
  8. The common groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)
  9. The common field speedwell (Veronica persica)
  10. The common field sowthistle (Sonchus arvensis)

To sum up, Cleistogamy is a unique reproductive strategy in plants, which helps them to reproduce in adverse conditions. It has both advantages and disadvantages, like ensuring self-fertilization and increasing their chances of reproduction, but also reduces genetic diversity. Cleistogamy is prevalent in many plant species across the globe, and its management is influenced by various factors such as environmental conditions and competition for resources.

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