The female flower is enveloped in a closely fitting sac-like investment, which must be regarded as a perianth; within this is an orthotropous ovule surrounded by a single integument prolonged upwards as a beak-like micropyle.
The whole flower may be looked upon as an adventitious bud bearing two pairs of leaves; each pair becomes concrescent and forms a perianth, the apex of the shoot being converted into an orthotropous ovule.
When the ovule is so developed that the chalaza is at the hilum (next the placenta), and the micropyle is at the opposite extremity, there being a short funicle, the ovule is orthotropous.
Isolated fossil seeds are common in the Carboniferous and Permian strata; in all cases they are of the orthotropous type, and resemble the seeds of Cycads or Ginkgo more nearly than those of any other living plants.
As a rule, however, the fossil stems show a marked difference from modern forms in the possession of lateral shoots given off from the axils of leaves, and terminating in a flower of complex structure containing numerous orthotropous seeds.