The word ‘Gymnosperm’ comes from a Greek word which means ‘Naked seeds’ and Gymnosperms are the seed-producing plants. These plants develop on the surface of leaves or at the end of stalks forming a cone-like structure. Usually, these seed-bearing plants belong to the kingdom ‘Plantae’ and a sub-kingdom called ‘Embryophyta’ and have evolved around 300 million years ago.
Basically, Gymnosperms are the plants in which the ovules are not enclosed by the ovary wall unlike in the angiosperms. It remains exposed before and after the fertilization, and before developing into a seed. The stem of a ‘gymnosperm’ can be branched or unbranched. The thick cuticle, needle-like leaves, and the sunken stomata on the leaves reduce the rate of water loss in these plants. It is as shown in the below image.
Economic Characteristics of Gymnosperms-
- They do not produce flowers but form seeds.
- They are not fruit-bearing plants.
- They are mostly pollinated by the wind.
- They form cones with reproductive structures.
- They develop needle-like leaves and are usually found in dry places.
- These plants have vascular tissues which are involved in the vascular transport system.
Classification of Gymnosperms
Gymnosperms are classified into four types as given below-
Cycads are the seed bearing plants which are also called the primitive gymnosperms.These plants usually have large compound leaves, thick trunks and small leaflets which are attached to the single central stem. They go up to a height of about 25 cm. Cycads have separate male and female specimen.
Another class of Gymnosperm, Ginkgophyta is a strong leaf-like structure looking like a plant. It has a number of medicinal values. It possesses fan-type leaves that can help improve and sharpen the memory of a human being.
This is another type of species that usually consists of tropical plants, trees, and shrubs. They are characterized by flowery leaves that have a soft coating. This coating gives them an ancestral connection with the angiosperms.
These are the most commonly known species among the gymnosperms. These are mainly characterized by male and female cones which are in the form of needle-like structures. Conifers are usually found in places where the climate is temperate. Sequoia is one of the examples of Conifers.
Some of the examples for Gymnosperms include pinus, cycas, cedas and etc.
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