4 Types of Plants (Kingdom Plantae)
Plants are classified mainly based on vascular tissue and reproductive tissues. Plants that lack true roots, stems, and leaves due to the absence of vascular tissues are placed under Phylum Bryophyta. Plants that have vascular tissues for the transport of food and water are commonly known as tracheophytes.
In the two-kingdom classification scheme, ferns and seed plants are grouped in Phylum Tracheophyta. Tracheophyta comes from the Greek word tracheis which means windpipe and phyton which means plants. The name pertains to xylem tracheids. There are about 212 000 species of vascular plants. In the five-kingdom scheme of classification, the major groups of tracheophytes - the ferns, cycads, conifers (pines) and flowering plants are elevated to phylum level as follows:
1. Phylum Filicinophyta (Ferns)
2. Phylum Cycadophyta (Cycads)
3. Phylum Coniferophyta (Pines)
4. Phylum Angiospermophyta (Flowering Plants)
These plants are similar in their vascular tissues, chlorophyll, and their bodies are differentiated into true roots, stems, and leaves.
1. Bryophytes (Phylum Bryophyta)Click thumbnail to view full-size
Phylum Bryophyta is a type of plant that includes a group of widely distributed chlorophyll-bearing plants, which are hardly noticed by people because of their small size. The name of the phylum comes from the Greek words bryon, which means moss, and phyton, which means plants. There are about 24,000 species of bryophytes. The following plants are representatives of the three classes of bryophytes - moss, liverwort, and hornwort. Among these three, the most familiar to people is the moss. The moss is erect, while the liverwort and hornwort are flat and creeping.
Characteristics of Bryophytes
1. Bryophytes lack structures that are specialized for conducting water and dissolved food. Higher plants, such as flowering plants, contain structures that are specialized for conducting water and dissolved food. In those plants, water and dissolved minerals travel from the roots to the leaves through very fine tubes called xylem tracheids. At the same time, dissolved food travels from the leaves to the rest of the plant body through phloem cells. Xylem and phloem are collectively called vascular tissue. In bryophytes, water and dissolved substances move simply through diffusion from cell to cell.
2. Bryophytes are small plants. Most bryophytes have shorter stems, and those with long stems are rarely longer than 8 centimeters. Unlike algae and fungi, bryophytes have structures that look like stems, leaves, and roots. For instance, the common moss plant has a stemlike structure that consists of one layer of cells and a thick midrib. It has a tuft of rootlike rhizoids that anchors to the soil, tree trunks, stone walls or rocks. The stemlike structures in bryophytes rarely rise higher than 10 centimeters above the ground.
Importance of Bryophytes
- Bryophytes play an important role in the biosphere.
- Bryophytes are producers so they provide food for a number of herbivorous birds and other animals.
- Bryophytes carpet the soil thus prevent soil erosion.
- Bryophytes contribute to soil formation. They often grow with lichens on rock surfaces, causing the outer portion of the rock to slowly crumble.
- Bryophytes increase the water-holding capacity of the soil and the amount of organic matter in the soil.
- Sphagnum, a type of bryophyte, is used as packing material for breakable or fragile objects such as figurines and dinnerware.
- Sphagnum holds water and prevents plants from drying during transport. It is used as packing material for transporting plants and plant parts.
2. Ferns (Phylum Filicinophyta)Click thumbnail to view full-size
Under an earlier system of plant classification, ferns are placed under Phylum Pteridophyta. The name comes from the Greek words pteron, which means feather, and phyton, which means plants. It pertains to the appearance of the leaves of the bird's nest fern. Under a more recent system of plant classification, the ferns are placed under Phylum Filicinophyta. The name of the phylum comes from the Latin word filic, which means fern. There are about 9000 species of ferns all over the world. Some of the examples of ferns are provided in the pictures above.
Characteristics of Ferns
1. Ferns are shade-loving plants. Some of them are relatively large, but they are generally short since, in most of them, the leaves are practically anchored directly to the soil or tree trunk.
2. Ferns are similar to seed-bearing plants. Although they are similar to seed-bearing plants, their reproductive structures are spores rather than seeds. Ferns are similar to bryophytes in this respect.
Importance of Ferns
- Ferns belong to the first trophic level of various food chains in the biosphere.
- Ferns are used for ornamental purposes.
- Some ferns are edible. The young fern leaves called fronds are eaten as a salad or cooked, especially with coconut milk and shrimp or charbroiled fish.
- Some ferns are used for binding. Some ferns are used for decorative purposes since their stems are pliable, strong, black, smooth, and glossy.
- Ferns are used in making native headwears and ladies' handbags.
3. GymnospermsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Gymnosperms include two phyla of plants represented by the plants - Phylum Cycadophyta and Phylum Coniferophyta. Gymnosperms are plants that consist of about 700 species of woody plants with seeds that are not enclosed by fruits. Seeds that are not borne inside a fruit are said to be "naked." The name of the type of plant comes from the Greek words gymnos, which means naked, and sperma, which means seed. Gymnosperms are consists of 500 species and rank among the most economically important plants.
Characteristics of Gymnosperms
- Conifers generally prefer low temperatures. Conifers are abundant in temperate regions and warmer countries with high elevations.
- The naked seed of gymnosperms is usually found on the surface of cone scales.
- Giant Redwoods is the tallest tree representative of the gymnosperms, which rise to more than 100 meters above the ground.
Importance of Gymnosperms
- Gymnosperms are significant as timber trees, food and medicinal plants, ornamental plants and as sources of essential oils and other products.
- Gymnosperms are important in erosion control.
- Gymnosperms are important in the protection of watersheds.
- Gymnosperms are important in the enhancement of the aesthetic value of natural communities.
- Gymnosperms are of great biological importance because of their diversity of form and structure.
- Gymnosperms are a well-documented fossil record.
4. AngiospermsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Angiosperms are the type of plants with which we are most familiar. Angiosperms are also called flowering plants, and they belong to Phylum Angiospermophyta. Angiosperms comprise the largest group of plants in terms of the number of species. There are about 200,000 species of these plants with seeds that are enclosed in a fruit. The name of the phylum comes from the Greek words angeion, which means a small container, sperma, which means seed, and phyton, which means plant.
Phylum Angiospermophyta is divided into two classes according to the number of cotyledons in their seeds. Angiosperms with two cotyledons such as beans and peanuts are placed under Class Dicotyleonidae or dicots. Those with only one cotyledon such as corn and rice are placed under Class Monocotyledonidae or monocots.
Comparison of Dicots and Monocots
Tap root system
Fibrous root system
Circular arrangement of vascular tissues
Scattered vascular bundle arrangement
Netted or reticulate veins
Multiples of 4 or 5
Multiples of 3
Characteristics of Angiosperms
- Angiosperms have well developed vascular tissues that make them well adapted to terrestrial habitats. Angiosperms possess not only tracheids for water transport but xylem vessels as well.
- The reproductive organs of Angiosperms are usually protected within a whorl of highly modified and/or attractively colored leaves in an intricate structure called a flower.
- Seeds of angiosperms are enclosed in a fruit.
- The growth of angiosperms is affected by the type of environment. Although flowering plants have well developed vascular tissues for adapting to terrestrial habitats, extremely dry places may affect their growth and reproduction. In the desert where rainfall is scant, and in Arctic tundra where water has frozen in the cold, plants grow very slowly.
Importance of Angiosperms
- Angiosperms can grow as big as trees and provide animals with both food and shelter.
- Angiosperms serve as a home for monkeys and other large mammals, as well as birds, reptiles, and arthropods.
- Angiosperms serve as a home for insects and spiders.
- Angiosperms keep the carbon dioxide level of our atmosphere down to 0.03%.
- Angiosperms provide the living world with a sufficient supply of oxygen.
- Angiosperms are sources of food, timber, medicine, fiber, and other useful products such as dyes, oil, gums, and spices.
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