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7.8: Importance of Seedless Plants

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Where does electricity come from?

You probably have noticed these huge power lines delivering electricity across the country. But how is this electricity generated? Although there are some alternate sources like wind power and nuclear power, the majority of electricity in the United States is generated by burning coal. Seedless plants were central in forming the coal deposits that we depend on.

Importance of Seedless Plants

Seedless plants have been tremendously useful to humans. Without these plants evolving millions of years ago, life as we know it would be very different.

Seedless Plants Became Coal

The greatest influence seedless plants have had on human society is in the formation of coal millions of years ago. When the seedless plants died, became buried deep in the earth, and were exposed to heat and pressure, coal formed. Coal is essentially made of the fossilized carbon from these plants. Now coal is burned to provide energy, such as electricity.

Current Uses

But some seedless plants still have uses in society today. Peat moss is commonly used by gardeners to improve soils, since it is really good at absorbing and holding water ( Figure below ).

Ferns are also found in many gardens as ornaments. The fiddleheads of certain species of ferns are used in gourmet food. Some species of ferns, such as the maidenhair fern, are used as medicines.

Sphagnum, or peat moss, is commonly added to soil to help absorb water, and keep it in the soil.


  • coal : Combustible sedimentary rock primarily composed of carbon; burned for the production of electricity and/or heat; a fossil fuel.
  • peat moss : Large, absorbent moss often used to increase water capacity of soil.


  • Seedless plants were responsible for the formation of coal millions of years ago.
  • Two ways that gardeners utilize seedless plants are peat moss as a soil amendment and ferns as ornamental plants.


Use the resource below to answer the questions that follow.

  1. Low sulfur coal produces less pollution when burned than high sulfur coal. Name one factor that affects the sulfur content in coal.
  2. How do scientists feel the Powder River Basin coal was formed? Explain the theories as thoroughly as you can.
  3. What is the relationship between modern peat bogs and coal deposits?


  1. How was coal formed?
  2. What is one use of ferns?

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Difficulty Level:

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7 , 8

Date Created:

Nov 29, 2012

Last Modified:

Nov 04, 2014
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