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Classification of Plants

Phylum Common Name / Examples No. of
Species
Comments
Bryophyta Liverworts, hornworts, mosses 24000 small plants living in moist habitats (their sperm must swim through water to reach their eggs). Reproduce by spores.
Psilophyta Whiskferns 12 simple vascular plants lacking true roots and, in some species, leaves. Reproduce by spores.
Sphenophyta or Equisetophyta Horsetails, scouring rushes 20 primarily found in moist, muddy habitats; stems creeping underground and producing erect annual or perrenial stems with tiny leaves whorled into sheaves around stem. Jointed hollow stems and rough ribbed texture caused by the mineral silica. Reproduce by spores.
Filicinophyta or Pterydophyta Ferns 12000 vascular plants which reproduce by spores; stems mostly creeping, large leaves (megaphylls) with branching veins. The most complex, diverse and abundant of the plant phyla that do not produce seeds.
Cycadophyta Cycads 100 evergreen perrenial shrubs or trees with stems that are usually unbranched but thickened by some secondary growth. Palm-like or fern-like compound leaves; they contain symbiotic cyanobacteria in special roots.
Ginkgophyta Ginkgo, maidenhair tree 1 native to China but cultivated worldwide, the gingko is a tall tree with deciduous fan-shaped leaves; the only living descendant of a once-large group.
Coniferophyta or Pinatae Conifers 550 by far the most familiar of the gymnosperms (plants having naked seeds); usually evergreen shrubs or trees with simple needle-like leaves, spirally arranged. Commercially important for timber, pulp, turpentine and resin products.
Gnetophyta Gnetophytes (cone-bearing desert plants) 70 cone-bearing desert plants. Resemble flowering plants in many ways; were once thought to be link between conifers and angiosperms.
Angiospermophyta or Magnoliophyta Angiosperms, flowering plants >230000 the dominant land vegetation of the Earth, including nearly every familiar tree, shrub or garden plant that produces flowers and seeds. Characterised by the aggregation of sexual reproductive structures with specialized shoots (flowers), which typically comprise four kinds of modified leaves; sepals, petals, stamens (male organs) and carpels (female organs).

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Last updated: 2005-01-17