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Tepal vs. Petal: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 18, 2023
Tepals are undifferentiated floral parts, petals are specialized, colorful parts of a flower.

Key Differences

Tepals represent a segment of a flower when petals and sepals are not distinctly different, presenting a unified appearance, often seen in lilies or tulips; Petals, on the other hand, are the colorful parts of a flower that are distinct from the green, leaf-like sepals, primarily serving to attract pollinators.
Tepals are characteristic of flowers that do not have a clear differentiation between the petals and sepals, the parts are similar in color and texture; Petals are specifically the inner parts of the flower's perianth and are typically more vivid and delicate than the outer parts of the perianth.
Tepals, in their functional role, are not specifically geared towards the attraction of pollinators, but rather, they perform a protective function for the reproductive parts of the flower; Petals, however, are evolutionary adapted to attract specific pollinators with their bright colors and sometimes even patterns visible only in ultraviolet light.
Tepals, when present, indicate a certain evolutionary development of the flower, often suggesting a more primitive anatomical structure; Petals suggest a more advanced evolutionary stage, where parts of the flower have specialized in their functions, particularly in the realm of reproduction, like attracting pollinators.
Tepals and petals, while distinct in their definitions, both serve crucial roles in the life cycle and reproductive processes of flowering plants, contributing to the biodiversity and ecological success of angiosperms, albeit in structurally and functionally different ways.

Comparison Chart

Basic Definition

Undifferentiated segment of a flower
Specialized, often colorful part of a flower


Similar to sepals
Distinct from sepals, usually more vibrant


General protection of reproductive parts
Attraction of pollinators

Evolutionary trait

Seen in more primitive plant structures
Indicates more advanced plant structures

Floral Structure

Found in flowers with no clear perianth differentiation
Found in flowers with a distinct perianth

Tepal and Petal Definitions


An undifferentiated segment of a flower.
The tulip's tepals were bright red, attracting many onlookers.


A colored segment of the flower, typically inside the sepals.
The rose petal fell gracefully to the ground.


A floral envelope segment not differentiated into sepal and petal.
Each lily features six tepals that are often mistaken for petals.


A usually soft and colorful part of a flower that surrounds the reproductive organs.
The child plucked a petal off the daisy as she walked.


The outer parts of the perianth when sepals and petals are indistinguishable.
In monocots, the tepals are usually similar in color and shape.


The part of the flower that attracts pollinators with its vivid colors and scent.
Each petal was a bright hue designed to attract bees.


A collective term for the petals and sepals of a flower when they are undifferentiated.
The flower's tepals surrounded its reproductive organs protectively.


One of the often brightly colored parts of a flower immediately surrounding the reproductive organs; a division of the corolla.


A segment of the outer whorl of a flower that resembles a petal.
The tepal's delicate texture made it look like a traditional petal.


(botany) One of the component parts of the corolla of a flower. It applies particularly, but not necessarily only, when the corolla consists of separate parts, that is when the petals are not connately fused. Petals are often brightly colored.


A segment of the perianth of a flower in which the calyx and corolla (which make up the perianth) are nearly indistinguishable, as in tulips or lilies. The tepals are equivalent to the petals and sepals.


Term of endearment.


(botany) Any component of the perianth (outermost whorls of flower parts, not involved in reproduction), especially when the components are not distinguished into sepals and petals.


A lobe of a rose (geometric shape). Category:en:Curves


A division of a perianth.


To spread out from, like the petals of a flower


An undifferentiated part of a perianth that cannot be distinguished as a sepal or a petal (as in lillies and tulips)


One of the leaves of the corolla, or the colored leaves of a flower. See Corolla, and Illust. of Flower.


One of the expanded ambulacra which form a rosette on the black of certain Echini.


Part of the perianth that is usually brightly colored


A delicate, often brightly colored leaf of the flower's corolla.
The artist captured the petal's translucent beauty in his painting.


One of the interior segments of the flower's perianth.
The flower consisted of multiple petals arrayed in a stunning display.


Do all flowers have petals?

No, some have tepals, and others may lack both.

Are tepals and petals interchangeable in flowers?

No, tepals are undifferentiated, while petals are specialized structures.

Can tepals be colorful like petals?

Yes, but they're not differentiated into sepals and petals.

What's the primary function of tepals?

They generally protect the flower's reproductive parts.

Are petals essential for pollination?

Often yes, they attract pollinators through color and scent.

Are petals typically more delicate than tepals?

Yes, they are usually more delicate and vividly colored.

What indicates a flower has petals?

A distinct difference between colorful inner leaves and outer green sepals.

Can petals be present in flowers with tepals?

No, it's either one or the other; they're distinct structures.

Are tepals unique to certain plant families?

Yes, like monocots including lilies and tulips.

Can you differentiate between tepals and petals by color?

Not always; tepals can also be colorful.

Are tepals found in all flowering plants?

No, they're more common in certain groups like monocots.

Are tepals always soft like petals?

Not necessarily; their texture isn't as uniform.

Do tepals evolve into petals in plants?

Not directly, but petals are seen in more evolutionarily advanced plants.

Do tepals attract pollinators like petals?

Not specifically, but they can still be colorful and attractive.

What's the texture of tepals?

They can be petal-like or sepal-like, as they're undifferentiated.

Do petals serve a protective function?

Not primarily; their main role is pollinator attraction.

What's the main visual difference between petals and sepals?

Petals are usually more colorful and delicate than sepals.

Can petals vary in number within the same species?

Yes, depending on genetic and environmental factors.

Do both petals and tepals surround reproductive parts of a flower?

Yes, both are part of the flower's perianth, enveloping reproductive structures.

Can petals have patterns?

Yes, often to attract pollinators.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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