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Plant Classification

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How do you know which group one particular plant belongs to?

So many different types of plants. Does the plant have roots? Or flowers? Or just seeds? Or roots and stems but not seeds? These are all characteristics used to classify plants. How many different types of plants do you see in this Japanese garden?

Classification of Plants

The scientific classification of modern land plants is under constant revision. Informally, land plants can be classified into the groups listed in Table below . Major divisions and types of modern land plants are organized in this table. Why do the first five types of plants require a moist habitat?

The most basic division is between nonvascular plants and vascular plants . Vascular plants are further divided into those that reproduce without seeds and those that reproduce with seeds. Seed plants, in turn, are divided into those that produce seeds in cones and those that produce seeds in the ovaries of flowers. Seed plants are called gymnosperms . Seed plants called angiosperms produce seeds in the ovaries of flowers .

Major Division Types of Plants No. of Living Species Description
Nonvascular Plants
Liverworts 7,000
Hornworts 150
Mosses 10,000 They lack leaves and roots. They have no stems, so they grow low to the ground. They reproduce with spores. They need a moist habitat.
Vascular Plants
Clubmosses 1,200 They have roots and tiny leaves. They have no stems, so they grow low to the ground. They reproduce with spores. They need a moist habitat.
Ferns 11,000 They have large leaves in fronds. They have stiff stems, so they are tall-growing; some are trees. They reproduce with spores. They need a moist habitat.
Ginkgoes 1
Cycads 160
Conifers 700
Gnetae 70 Most are trees with wood trunks. They have adaptations to dryness such as needle-like leaves. They reproduce with seeds and pollen. They produce seeds in cones.
Flowering Plants 258,650 They have tremendous diversity in size, shape, and other characteristics. They reproduce with seeds and pollen. They produce seeds in the ovaries of flowers. Ovaries may develop into fruits, which enhance seed dispersal.

Summary

  • The most basic division of living plants is between nonvascular and vascular plants.
  • Vascular plants are further divided into seedless and seed plants.
  • Seed plants called gymnosperms produce seeds in cones.
  • Seed plants called angiosperms produce seeds in the ovaries of flowers.

Practice

Use these resources to answer the questions that follow.

  1. What is a bryophyte?
  2. Compare hornworts, liverworts and mosses.
  1. What is a seedless vascular plant? Give an example.
  2. What is a gymnosperm? What is an angiosperm?
  3. Why are angiosperms vital to human life?
  1. What is the main difference between monocots and dicots?
  2. What is the purpose of the vascular tissue is these plants?
  3. How do the flowers differ between monocots and dicots?

Review

1. Compare the different types of plants in the Table above . Which type of plants would you say is most successful? Support your answer with data from the table.

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