Bract (Involucre)


Bracts are modified leaves associated with a flower. 


Drawing courtesy Carrie Liz Carpenter


All the bracts that surround a flower, taken as a group, can be referred to as an involucre.


Plants develop bracts in an unbelievable variety of forms, helping each species to thrive in its part of the world.


These showy petal-like bracts help pollinators find the tiny flowers in the center.

Mountain Dogwood – photo courtesy Keir Morse


Thistle bracts are spiny, discouraging browsing animals from eating the flowers.

Milk Thistle – photo © Neal Kramer

In the Aster family, bracts surround a compound flower.

Shrubby Alkali Aster – Photo courtesy Steve Matson


These bracts look like scales and help protect a drooping cluster of emerging flowers.

Common Manzanita – photo courtesy Jeff Bisbee


Skunk Cabbage features one large bract.  It provides protection and advertising for the small flowers.

Skunk Cabbage – photo courtesy Keir Morse


Pine cones are made up of woody bracts that protect seeds until they’re ready to fall.

Jeffrey Pine Cone – photo © John Muir Laws


Oak bracts grow to form the acorn cap, protecting and connecting the acorn to the tree.

Leather Oak – photo © Neal Kramer


Want more?  See Wikipedia.