Early Plant Life

The Major Divisions of Land Plants

The green algae and land plants are grouped together into a subphylum called the Streptophyta, and thus are called Streptophytes. In a further division, land plants are classified into two major groups according to the absence or presence of vascular tissue, as detailed in Figure. Plants that lack vascular tissue, which is formed of specialized cells for the transport of water and nutrients, are referred to as non-vascular plants. Liverworts, mosses, and hornworts are seedless, non-vascular plants that likely appeared early in land plant evolution. Vascular plants developed a network of cells that conduct water and solutes. The first vascular plants appeared in the late Ordovician (500 to 435 MYA) and were probably similar to lycophytes, which include club mosses (not to be confused with the mosses) and the pterophytes (ferns, horsetails, and whisk ferns). Lycophytes and pterophytes are referred to as seedless vascular plants, because they do not produce seeds. The seed plants, or spermatophytes, form the largest group of all existing plants, and hence dominate the landscape. Seed plants include gymnosperms, most notably conifers, which produce “naked seeds,” and the most successful of all plants, the flowering plants (angiosperms). Angiosperms protect their seeds inside chambers at the center of a flower; the walls of the chamber later develop into a fruit.

Art Connection

Table shows the division of Streptophytes: the green plants. This group includes Charophytes and Embryophytes. Embryophytes are land plants, which are subdivided into vascular and nonvascular plants. Nonvascular plants are all seedless, and are in the Bryophyte group, which is subdivided into liverworts, hornworts, and mosses. Vascular plants are divided into seedless and seed plants. Seedless plants are subdivided into Lycophytes, which include club mosses, quillworts, and spike mosses, and Pterophytes, which include whisk ferns, horsetails, and ferns. Seed plants are in the Spermatophyte group and consist of gymnosperms and angiosperms.
Streptophytes. This table shows the major divisions of green plants.

Which of the following statements about plant divisions is false?

  1. Lycophytes and pterophytes are seedless vascular plants.
  2. All vascular plants produce seeds.
  3. All non-vascular embryophytes are bryophytes.
  4. Seed plants include angiosperms and gymnosperms.