Difference between Sapling and Seedling


It is a young sporophyte that develops from the seed embryo. The seed germination process will simultaneously initiate seedling development. A typical seedling has these three parts –

  • The radicle or embryonic root
  • Cotyledons or seed leaves
  • Hypocotyl or embryonic shoot.

Once cotyledons are grown above the ground surface, they start to develop plumules. Plumules are shoot structures that bear the first true leaves. Once the leaves are developed, the cotyledon eventually falls off. The growth of seedlings is affected by many factors, such as wind, light, temperature and physical stimulation.

Explore : Difference between Radicle and Plumule


It is a young tree with a diameter of 1 to 6 inches. It has adult leaves rather than seed leaves. A sapling usually develops from a seed similar to a seedling. Typically a seedling is developed into a sapling. Also, they can propagate from vegetative parts through stem cutting techniques. Thus, saplings are mature forms that do not have seed leaves.

Difference between Sapling and Seedling



It is a young tree that is typically 1 to 6 inches in diameter.

It is a young sporophyte that is typically less than 1 inch in diameter.

They develop from seed or vegetative parts.

They develop from the embryo of a plant seed.

They do not have cotyledons. Instead, they have mature leaves.

They have cotyledons or seed leaves.

Extended Reading: Seed Germination

Frequently Asked Questions


What is hypogeal and epigeal germination?

The germination happening below the ground level is called hypogeal germination. Likewise, germination above the ground level is called epigeal germination.


What is seeding?

Seeding is nothing but the sowing of seeds. Direct seeding refers to the direct sowing of seeds in a field. In some cases, the seeding is done indoors, and the seedlings are transplanted outdoors.


What is a sporophyte?

It is a multicellular diploid stage in the biological life cycle of an alga or plant. Most land plants have this sporophyte phase, which alternates with the multicellular gametophyte (haploid) phase.

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