The issue of gender and the Flowers is a perennial (if you'll excuse the pun) one amongst members of the PPC. Some hold that Flowers have actual genders, and are bound to them. Others claim that they are mere honorifics, similar to the names adopted by the Firstborn.
Gender itself is not physical but psychological, and also societal in nature to humans and many binary-sexed species. It is different from sex, which indicates male and female chromosomes, hormonal profiles, and sex organs. Thus, the only real clues to the possible gender of Flowers come from the social cues that they themselves provide—which may or may not be entirely clear.
For example, the Kudzu has been identified by various agents as male or female at different times. This may mean that Flowers may choose or change their own genders, or simply be assigned genders by individuals from gendered races.
In the Real World, a flower is the reproductive organ of a plant, though flowers often do not have a binary sex; flowers most often contain both male and female organs in the same bloom.
Evidence for Actual Genders
- Many of the Flowers seem to have personalities to fit their stated genders. The Sub Rosa seems and acts very distinctively female, while it would be very hard for many agents to think of Hornbeam as anything other than male.
- The Dandelions have a uniform distinction between male and female: The females have seed-heads, while the males have flower-heads.
- A Yellow Rose has been known to wear a vine bikini. And flirt outrageously, exclusively with "male" Flowers.
- The Division of Mpreg is headed by the Male Ginkgo; Ginkgos and a few other trees are unusual in that instead of producing both male and female reproductive parts in the same bloom, whole trees bear either male or female reproductive capability. Thus, they have a binary rather than ambiguous sex. Gender may still be a question.
- It is possible for a Real World human (and many other species in continua) to have a gender different from their sex (or in spite of an androgynous physical sex); so it should also be possible for androgynous Flowers to have genders despite an undefined sex.
Evidence for Honorifics
- Well... they're Flowers. Flora do not generally have genders; unlike humans, most Flowers belong to species without genders.
- This is because all (known) Real World flora do not have the mental capability to establish any kind of identity at all, much less a gendered one. On the other hand, Flowers may have their own identity groups that have nothing to do with gender and are therefore utterly alien to a gendered being's mindset.
- Flowers are working with many species with binary (or mostly binary) gender distributions, some of whose languages (notably English) do not have widely-used pronouns for sentient androgynous beings. It would be natural for agents speaking these languages to assign genders simply for convenience's sake, and to avoid having to awkwardly refer to a Flower as "it".