What is a Plant Study Guide (page 2)

Updated on Sep 21, 2011

Flowers and Cones

Gymnosperms is the name given to seed plants that do not form flowers. These plants were present on Earth before the flowering seed plants. Representatives of this group include pines, spruce, and cypresses. Gymnosperms are adapted to cold, dry areas. They have very thin, small leaves covered with a waterproof layer that keeps them from drying out. They also retain green leaves all year long (these are the plants we call evergreens) so that they can continue making food all year long. They also produce a kind of biological antifreeze in their sap that keeps them from freezing. This substance is what produces the scent from a pine tree, for example. Gymnosperms also produce seeds in cones.

Angiosperms is the name given to seed plants that do form flowers. These plants now dominate the Earth (even more so than the gymnosperms) and are highly diverse with many different types of plants. The angiosperms have been successful because they have developed flowers, fruits, and broad leaves. Their broad leaves allow them to capture more sunlight and produce more of their own food than the narrow, thin leaves of the gymnosperms.

Their most attractive characteristic is their flowers. Flowers are structures that contain the male and female sexual parts where sperm and egg cells are produced. The structure of flowers is designed to attract animals that will assist in the pollination process. Thus, flowers are colorful and fragrant. They also often offer a "reward" of nectar or pollen that the animal, such as a bee, uses for food.

Additionally, fruits are clearly important to animals and humans. They are also important to flowering seed plants because fruits are the remnants of the flower and contain the fully developed seed. The fleshy, sweet-tasting fruit encourages animals to eat them and disperse the seeds they contain.

In Short

Many diverse organisms are classified within the Plant Kingdom, but they usually share certain characteristics that make them recognizable as plants. They are usually green (or part of their body is green), and they do not have the ability of locomotion, so they stay in one spot. They carry out the process known as photosynthesis, which turns carbon dioxide and water into sugars and oxygen gas. Long ago, two major groups of land plants evolved from algae, the bryophytes or nonvascular plants and the tracheophytes or vascular plants. Within vascular plants are two types, seedless and seeded. The seed plants also have two varieties, flowering and nonflowering.

Practice problems of this concept can be found at: What is a Plant Practice Questions

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