Self Pollination vs. Cross Pollination

The two types of pollination, self and cross, are compared. This article includes advantages and disadvantages and a definition of each type.

Before we compare the types of pollination we need to know how to define it.

Simply saying, pollination is the transfer of pollen from the anther to the stigma of a flower. This is just a simple definition but pollination involves many other things. We can divide pollination into two types. Cross Pollination and Self Pollination.

Now lets compare.

Self Pollination

This type of pollination occurs when the anther and stigma are either in the same flower, or in different flowers on the same plant. As the offspring produced are genetically identical to the parent we can also call it asexual reproduction. To see asexual and sexual reproduction compared in another article click here (will open in a new window).

Obviously the genes in one same flower are the same. So this will obviously have to be called self pollination. Something most people mix up is when pollination occurs between different flowers of the same plant. This is also self pollination as the same set of plant genes are involved.

So in self pollination either only one flower is involved or the two flowers involved are from the same plant.



Self pollination can make sure that a species of plants would not go into extinction as two different plants are not needed to reproduce. If two different plants of the same species are required then there is less chance of pollination happening that often. In other words less offspring produced in cross pollination so there is a higher chance of extinction but plants using self pollination have nothing to fear. They can produce offspring on their own using one parent.

The offspring produced are genetically identical to the parent so that means if the parent plant can survive in a certain habitat then the offspring will also surely be able to survive in the same habitat.


As offspring are genetically identical there is no variation so therefore no evolution. Disease may also easily spread among identical offspring.

Electron micrograph showing pollen grains.

Image via Wikipedia

Cross Pollination

Cross pollination is entirely different from self pollination. An important thing to remember is that in Cross Pollination there are always two plants involved. As the offspring are not genetically identical to the parent plant this can be called a form of sexual reproduction. To see asexual and sexual reproduction compared in another article click here (will open in a new window).

Cross pollination occurs when the two flowers involved are from different plants rather then from the same one. Two flowers from different plants mean that different set of genes are involved. It also very important to remember that the two different flowers involved must be of the same species.

So you can also define it in another way. Cross Pollination occurs when the anther and the stigma are in flowers on different plants of the same species.



Since offspring are not genetically identical to the parent there are variations and these can lead to evolution. Diseases wont affect all offspring at once as non of them are genetically identical.


Not a very sure method as the pollen might not reach the stigma. Two parent flowers from two different plants from the same species are required.

Cross and self pollination have their own methods, advantages, disadvantages and features. Most of them were simply summarised above.

This is all for now about pollination. If you have any questions or suggestions please comment below. If you found this article helpful please support me (Nivu Whatani) by reading my other articles.

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19 Responses to “Self Pollination vs. Cross Pollination”
  1. valli Says...

    On December 11, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    An educational stuff.

  2. Kabas Says...

    On May 13, 2010 at 5:38 am

    thanks very much! I am studying for a biology exam and found this very clear and useful :)

  3. JEN Says...

    On October 28, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    this is a really helpful website cus i been lookin for sensible answers all day and tank god i finally found!!!!


  4. PurpleMouse Says...

    On November 28, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    wowwww really helpful to me! my bio teacher sux but this website really helps explain things that my bio teacher couldnt :)
    thanks fo this!

  5. alex Says...

    On November 30, 2010 at 12:24 am

    thanx alot i have this essay do tomorrow and i had a week to do it and i waited till today oooooooops welll this reallly helped me and i didnt have to bugg anny of my friends or my teacher

  6. thesinz Says...

    On February 23, 2011 at 10:04 am

    what are the names of plants that do so and what characteristics doea a plant that does not self pollinate have?

  7. Alucard Says...

    On March 26, 2011 at 2:55 am

    No offense, ‘Self-pollination” is not asexual reproduction. Nonetheless, very good article.

  8. Scott K Says...

    On March 30, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Very clear and concise explanations of the different types of angiosperm pollination! Very importantly you included that in cross-pollination the plants still must be THE SAME SPECIES so no cross pollination would occur between a rose and a sunflower.(different number of chromosomes amoung other things). My hats off to you for a great, simple, yet to-the-point explanation betwen the two. Nice work!

  9. mir_za Says...

    On April 6, 2011 at 4:45 am

    thanks so’s really useful for my science homework.however, i hope the writer will add more advantages of cross-pollination

  10. GAYATHRI.V.S Says...

    On April 11, 2011 at 10:53 am

    thankyou so much..this article helped me a lot to complete my project work !!!

  11. Stacy Says...

    On October 23, 2011 at 11:45 am

    tnx soooo much :) ^ _^

  12. angie Says...

    On November 1, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    this was sooooooooooooo useful :) :) no more STRESS on my back :P

  13. ben Says...

    On November 1, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    this is soooooooo f##### awsome im going to get a good grade :D
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  14. ben Says...

    On November 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    <3 :) angieeeeeeee

  15. angie Says...

    On November 1, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    okay then (confused)

  16. Johnny Says...

    On February 1, 2012 at 10:12 am

    very comprehensive

  17. Emily Says...

    On April 5, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Self pollination do produce genetic variation
    During meiosis, the plant produces gametes that have genetic variety
    The offsprings wont have the same genetic makeup as their parents

  18. riya Says...

    On June 9, 2012 at 5:52 am

    this article is just amazing …………………….thank u the one who wrote this

  19. devika Says...

    On January 16, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Thank uuuuuuuuuuuuuu

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