Based on the production of flowers, plants are classified into Angiosperms and gymnosperms. Plants that bear flowers are called flowering plants or Angiosperms. Plants that do not bear any flowers throughout their life cycle are called non-flowering plants or gymnosperms.
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Gymnosperms are other types of both vascular and non-vascular plants of the Kingdom Plantae, which directly produce seeds (naked) without bearing any flowers. Compared to the angiosperms, there are very few species of gymnosperms. These non-flowering plants species are abundantly found both in the colder region, boreal and temperate forests. They are evergreen plants, which can survive in any variety of habitats. In these plants, reproduction can be accomplished both by sexual or asexual reproduction.
Compared to angiosperms, the gymnosperms plant species are very few in number. This is mainly because they produce naked seeds, which are damaged by birds, animals, and other environmental factors before they are released. For the seed dispersal and continuity of the life cycle, they undergo wind pollination. Some of the best examples of gymnosperms are pine, cypress, larix, redwood, cycads, juniper, fir, etc.
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Now, let’s look at the economic importance of Gymnosperms
Importance of Gymnosperms
- Gymnosperms are a good source of food. Seeds of these non-flowering plants are widely used as an edible species, used for producing various food products. These plant species include: ginko, pinus, cycas, etc.
- A few species of gymnosperms are a good source of starch and are also used in the production of sago. It serves as major staple food for lowland or indigenous peoples.
- In certain parts of America and in other lowland regions, the leaves of these plant species are soaked and eaten as a green leafy vegetable.
- The different species of non- flowering plants are widely used in the production of wine and also on other food products.
- Other than the food, gymnosperms are widely used by the pharmaceutical industry for the production of various medicines, which are effectively used to treat infectious disease and other allergies including cold, cough, asthma, bronchitis, etc.
- Taxus, a genus of coniferous trees is well known for the drug taxol. This is an anticancer drug, which is used in the treatment of different cancers and is prepared from the bark of the Taxus tree.
- Different species of Cycas plants are used in the treatment of different diseases and also in the production of different hair care products, including oil, lotion, shampoo, etc.
- There are a few species of non-flowering plants, which are widely used as ornaments for decoration purposes. For example- fern.
- Oil extracted from the barks, wood and other parts of the plants are used in the cosmetics industries in the production of perfumes, room fresheners and other fragrance spray.
- Other than the food and medical applications, a few of these non-flowering plants are widely grown in gardens, parks and in other places as these plants possess beautiful ornamental leaves.
Other than these significances, gymnosperms have further economical importance too. These species are widely used in the production of:
- Certain medicines for the treatment of malignant ulcers.
- Mounting medium during microscopic examination in laboratories.
- Gum extracted from cycas trees are used as the antidote for snake bites.
- The wood of these plants are widely used in paper manufacturing industries.
- The leaves of cycads are used for preparing handbaskets, brooms, hats, door and floor mats and other eco-friendly products.
- Similar to teak and rose wood, the wood obtained from the barks, stem and the branches of the pines trees are also used for the production of beams, doors, flooring, poles, railway wagon, etc.
This article concludes an introduction to gymnosperms and their economic importance. To know more about gymnosperms, their types, features, other related topics and important questions on gymnosperms, keep visiting our website at BYJU’S Biology.