Flower opening and closure: a review

J Exp Bot. 2003 Aug;54(389):1801-12. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erg213.


Flower opening and closure are traits of a reproductive syndrome, as it allows pollen removal and/or pollination. Various types of opening can be distinguished such as nocturnal and diurnal and single or repetitive. Opening is generally due to cell expansion. Osmotic solute levels increase by the conversion of polysaccharides (starch or fructan) to monosaccharides, and/or the uptake of sugars from the apoplast. Repeated opening and closure movements are often brought about by differential elongation. In tulip petals, for example, the upper and lower sides of the mesophyll exhibit a 10 degrees C difference in optimum temperature for elongation growth, resulting in opening in the morning and closure in the evening. Opening and closure in several other species is regulated by changes in light intensity and, in some species with nocturnal opening, by an increase in relative humidity. A minimum duration of darkness and light are usually required for opening and closure, respectively, in flowers that open during the day. Both phytochrome and a blue light receptor seem involved in light perception. In some species, opening and closure are regulated by an endogenous rhythm, which, in all cases investigated, can be reset by changes from dark to light and/or light to dark. So far, Arabidopsis mutants have not been used to investigate the timing of flower opening and closure. As its flowers open and close in a circadian fashion, several mutants that are involved in the circadian clock and its light input may help to provide an insight into this type of flower opening. The co-ordination of processes culminating in synchronized flower opening is, in many species, highly intricate. The complex control by endogenous and exogenous factors sets flower opening and closure apart from most other growth processes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Cues
  • Flowers / physiology*
  • Flowers / radiation effects
  • Light
  • Reproduction