Sunday, April 21, 2024
General Agriculture

Introduction to Spermatophyte

The spermatophytes, which mean “seed plants”, are some of the most important organisms on Earth. Life on land as we know it, is shaped largely by the activities of seed plants. Soils, forests, and food are three of the most apparent products of this group.

Seed-producing plants are probably the most familiar plants to most people, unlike mosses, liverworts, horsetails, and most other seedless plants which are overlooked because of their size or inconspicuous appearance.

Many seed plants are large or showy. Conifers are seed plants; they include pines, firs, yew, redwood, and many other large trees. The other major groups of seed-plants are the flowering plants, including plants whose flowers are showy, but also many plants with reduced flowers, such as the oaks, Iroko, Mahogany, grasses, and palms.

Having introduced to you what Spermatopytes are, let us now take a look at the objectives we intend to achieve at the end of this article.

Fig. 1.1a Seed Plant
Introduction to Spermatophyte
Fig 1.1b Seed Plant

Classification of Spermatophytes

The spermatophytes (also known as phanerogams) comprise those plants that produce seeds. They are a subset of the embryophytes or land plants. The living spermatophytes form five groups:

cycads, a subtropical and tropical group of plants with a large crown of compound leaves and a stout trunk,

Ginkgo, a single living species of tree,

Conifers, cone-bearing trees and shrubs,

Gnetophytes, woody plants in the genera Gnetum, Welwitschia, and Ephedra, and

Angiosperms, the flowering plants, a large group including many familiar plants in a wide variety of habitats.

A traditional classification grouped all the seed plants in a single Division, with Classes for our five groups:

1. Division Spermatophyta

Cycadopsida, the cycads;

Ginkgoopsida, the ginkgo;

Pinopsida, the conifers, (“Coniferopsida”);

Gnetopsida, the gnetophytes;

Magnoliopsida, the flowering plants, or Angiospermopsida.

A more modern classification ranks these groups as separate divisions (sometimes under the Super division Spermatophyta):

Cycadophyta, the cycads;

Ginkgophyta, the ginkgo;

Pinophyta, the conifers;

Gnetophyta, the gnetophytes;

Magnoliophyta, the flowering plants.

We have seen the different classifications of the seed plants-spermatophytes; we shall now go ahead and take a look at the individual classes of gymnosperm and the flowering plants.

Gymnosperms (Naked seed plants)

Gymnosperms are plants that do not flower and do not bear their seeds in an enclosure such as a fruit. The seeds are produced on the surface of the sporophylls or similar structures until they are dispersed.

The sporophylls are usually arranged in a spiral on the female strobili (cones) which develop at the same time as the smaller male strobili. The male strobili produce the pollens which will fertilize the ovules in the female cones.

The ovule contains a nutritious nucellus which is itself enclosed in several layers of integument. The integument layers will eventually become the seed coat, after fertilization and further development of the embryo takes place.

2. Division:Pinophyta

Subdivision: Pinicaeincluding Conifers. Conifers are pine trees and as evergreens to the layman.

Structure and Form – For the sake of discussion we will look at Pines, which are the largest genus of conifers. Pine needles are their leaf structures.

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They are usually arranged in clusters or bundles of two to five leaves (needles), although some species have as few as one or as many as eight leaves in a cluster, the clusters are sometimes referred to as fascicles.

Each needle is covered with a thick cuticle over the epidermal layer and a layer of thick-walled cells just beneath the epidermis called the hypodermis. The stomata on the epidermal surface are sunken and are surrounded by an endodermis.

The mesophyll cells do not have the wide air spaces as broadleaf and flowering plant leaves. Resin, and resin canals develop noticeably throughout the mesophyll cells. The canals are tubes in which resin is secreted.

Resin is both aromatic and antiseptic and helps to prevent fungal infections and deter insect attacks. Some conifers produce resin in response to injury. The fascicles, needle clusters, will fall off every two to five years after maturing.

They do not, however, fall off all at once and unless diseased, will not look bare like other flowering trees. The secondary xylem, wood, in conifers varies in hardness. Most gymnosperm wood consists of tracheids and has no vessel members or fibers as do flowering trees.

Therefore the wood lacks thick walled cells. Conifer wood is considered to be softwood, while the wood of broadleaf trees is considered to be hardwood. The xylem rings in conifers are often fairly wide as a result of rapid growth. Both vertical and horizontal resin canals can be found throughout the wood.

Pine phloem lacks companion cells, but has albuminous cells that perform similar function for the phloem. The roots of pine trees are always found in association with mycorrhizal fungi. The fungi perform functions for the roots, which enable normal growth. Pine trees can be found in all types of environments and ones of opposite extremes.

Introduction to Spermatophyte
Fig 1.2a Diagram of Conifers
Introduction to Spermatophyte
Fig 1.2b section of a dicot leaf (showing cuticle and epidermis).

There are 550 conifer species; because they are well adapted to harsh climates, they often form the tree line on mountains and in sub polar regions

Class Ginkoatae

Ginkgo trees have small fan-shaped leaves with veins that evenly fork. They have similar reproductive cycles to that of the conifers with the exception that the edible seeds are encased in a fleshy covering. The covering smells like rancid butter at seed maturity.

Division: Pinophyta Subdivision Cycadicae

Cycads — these plants look like little palm trees with unbranched trunks and large crowns of pinnately divided leaves. Their strobili and cones are quite similar to those of conifers; however, their sperms have numerous flagella — much unlike conifers

Division: Pinophyta

Introduction to Spermatophyte
Fig 1.3 Diagram of a Cycad showing Cone and Strobili


Gnetophytes — These plants have vessels in their xylem. Most of the species have jointed stems and leaves that are nothing more than scales. Sometimes the plants in this genus are called joint firs, as they look like jointed sticks. The plants in this subdivision are adapted to unusually dry environments. They produce tiny leaves in groups of twos and threes, which turn brown as soon as they appear. Male and female strobili may occur on the same plant.

Introduction to Spermatophyte
Fig 1.4 Diagram of gymnosperms plants

You have just been introduced to the different classifications of gymnosperms. Now , we shall take a look at another classification of the seed plants, the angiosperms which are generally referred to as flowering plants.

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Angiosperms — flowering seed plants (covered seed plants)

Angiosperms are plants that have seeds encased in a protective covering. That covering is the ovary which is part of the flower structure and distinguishes angiosperms from gymnosperms. So it can be said that angiosperms are also flowering plants.

There is one division of angiosperms, Magnoliophyta, which is divided into two classes: monocots and dicots. Angiosperms, like gymnosperms, are heterosporus, which means they produce two types of spores and their sporophytes are more dominant than those of gymnosperms.

At maturity, the female gametophytes are reduced to a few cells and are completely enclosed within sporophyte tissue; while the male gametophytes consist of a binucleate cell with a tube nucleus which forms a pollen tube much like the one formed in gymnosperm pollination.

Introduction to Spermatophyte
Fig 1.5 A Flowering (Seed) Plant

Having been introduced to both the gymnosperms and angiosperms, of what relevance are they to humans and the environment? Let us take a look at some of these.

Relevance of Seed Plants to Humans

Conifers are sources for paper products and lumber materials. The resin from conifers has historically been used as sealing pitch, turpentine, floor waxes, printer’s ink, perfumes, menthol manufacture and rosin for musical instruments.

Ginko leaves are used medicinally. Arrowroot starch was once purified from a cycad species. Teas have been made from conifers.

Beyond ornamental uses, flowering plants constitute much of what we eat, parts of the clothes we wear, the wood in our homes and furniture and the medicines we consume.

Flowering plants are everywhere and thus have a million uses. All fruit comes from flowering plants, obviously, and think of how many just in the edible category there is, not to mention all of those that aren’t for eating.

Stop and think for a minute on the plants that you encounter in daily life, chances are good they came from a flowering plant

In conclusion, seeds plants, also known as Spermatophytes or Phanerogams are well diversed , well established and the most developed in the whole of the plant kingdom.

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Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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