In flowering plants, the ovule is located inside the portion of the flower called the gynoecium. The ovary of the gynoecium produces one or more ovules and ultimately becomes the fruit wall. Ovules are attached to the placenta in the ovary through a stalk-like structure known as a funiculus (plural, funiculi). Different patterns of ovule attachment, or placentation, can be found among plant species, these include:
Ovule orientation may be anatropous, such that when inverted the micropyle faces the placenta (this is the most common ovule orientation in flowering plants), amphitropous, campylotropous, or orthotropous.
In gymnosperms such as conifers, ovules are borne on the surface of an ovuliferous (ovule-bearing) scale, usually within an ovulate cone (also called megastrobilus). In some extinct plants (e.g. Pteridosperms), megasporangia and perhaps ovules were borne on the surface of leaves. In other extinct taxa, a cupule (a modified leaf or part of a leaf) surrounds the ovule (e.g. Caytonia or Glossopteris).
The ovule appears to be a megasporangium with integuments surrounding it. Ovules are initially composed of diploid maternal tissue, which includes a megasporocyte (a cell that will undergo meiosis to produce megaspores). Megaspores remain inside the ovule and divide by mitosis to produce the haploid female gametophyte or megagametophyte, which also remains inside the ovule. The remnants of the megasporangium tissue (the nucellus) surround the megagametophyte. Megagametophytes produce archegonia (lost in some groups such as flowering plants), which produce egg cells. After fertilization, the ovule contains a diploid zygote and then, after cell division begins, an embryo of the next sporophyte generation. In flowering plants, a second sperm nucleus fuses with other nuclei in the megagametophyte forming a typically polyploid (often triploid) endosperm tissue, which serves as nourishment for the young sporophyte.
An integument is a protective cell layer surrounding the ovule. Gymnosperms typically have one integument (unitegmic) while angiosperms typically have two (bitegmic). The evolutionary origin of the inner integument (which is integral to the formation of ovules from megasporangia) has been proposed to be by enclosure of a megasporangium by sterile branches (telomes). Elkinsia, a preovulate taxon, has a lobed structure fused to the lower third of the megasporangium, with the lobes extending upwards in a ring around the megasporangium. This might, through fusion between lobes and between the structure and the megasporangium, have produced an integument.