(1) An organism (plant or animal) having both male and female reproductive organs.
(2) An organism having both male and female organs, therefore, is capable of producing both male and female gametes.
A plant hermaphrodite for instance has both staminate and carpellate organs. In animals such as some pulmonate and opisthrobranch snails and slugs can act as either the male or female in a sexual reproduction. In humans, the term is used to describe an individual possessing both male and female organs. However, that individual may not be considered a true case of hermaphroditism since usually one of the two gonads present may not be functional. A true hermaphrodite refers to an individual in which both gonads are functional.
Hermaphrodites may be:
- simultaneous hermaphrodite – organism with both male and female reproductive organs at the same time
- sequential hermaphrodite – organism having one type of reproductive organ early in life and then the other type later in life.
Word origin: comes from the name of the minor Greek god Hermaphroditus, son of Hermes and Aphrodite