Gymnosperms Examples: Definition and Characteristics

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You probably need to learn about gymnosperms examples especially if you want to understand more about what kind of plants included in this category. Gymnosperms actually are a group of plants which produce seeds but not enclosed within the fruit or ovary.

The plants develop the seeds on the leaves or scales’ surface which later grow to become stalk shapes or cone. They have different characteristics from angiosperms, plants that enclose the seeds within an ovary.

Gymnosperms Examples and Characteristics

We already explained about definition of gymnosperms and you also need to know that they have four main divisions such as Cycadophyta, Coniferophyta, Gnetophyta, and Ginkgophyta. Gymnosperms’ stem can be unbranched or branched, usually they have needle-like leaves with thick cuticle and to reduce the risk of water loss, you can see that they have sunken stomata.

Characteristics of Gymnosperms

Below are some characteristics of gymnosperms:

  • They form needle-like leaves
  • They do not have flowers or produce them
  • They usually can be found in a cold regions or snowy countries
  • Their naked seeds are not inside the fruits
  • The plants usually in the form of bushes/tress or woody/perennial
  • The have reproductive structures in the shape of cones
  • They are not offer style, ovary and stigma differentiation.
  • The male gametophytes can create 2 gametes but not all can be functional, only one of them
  • The plants use vascular tissues to transport water and nutrients
  • Their seeds have endosperm which can store the food that useful to develop and growing its plants
  • They produce cones for reproductive structure
  • Phloem does not have sieve tubes as well as companion cells
  • Xylem does not have vessels

READ: Monocot Examples from Different Types of Plants

Examples of Gymnosperms

Below are some examples of gymnosperms based on their four divisions:

1. Cycads

gymnosperms examples cycad
Cycad (pxhere)

Cycads from Cycadophyta division appear with all these characteristics such as: they form a single, woody trunk, stout, crown of large, cylindrical, stiff and hard, evergreen compound leaves that growing from the trunk which shape rosette formation. They have known as dioecious which mean each plant can be all female or all male.

Cycads plants can be found usually in subtropic or tropical forests and regions like Sri Lanka, India, South East Asia, South America, etc. They have long steams with large size and it can easily be mistaken as palm trees because they indeed have almost similar appearance. It is a very tough plants because they can survive in areas with very little water sources.

Sadly, the cycads plants become more and more difficult to be found on these days. They are more numerous in the past than today and only about 3 expanded families can be found which are the Zamiaceae, Stangeriaceae and Cycadaceae.

2. Conifers

Gymnosperms Examples conifers
conifers (pixabay)

Another gymnosperm plants examples are the conifers from Coniferophyta division and they have very wide variety of species among gymnosperm plants. You can easily find conifers all around the world and most of them can survive in cold climate as well which you can notice from its downward facing branches useful to shed the snow. While the needle-leaf can help to reduce the water loss in dry climate due to the waxy coat on its surface.

Examples of conifers including spruces, redwoods, cedars, pines, first and yews. The word conifer itself meaning ‘cone bearer’ and both the female and male reproductive structures are inside the cone. The female and male cones can be found on the same tree so the conifers themselves can be recognized as monoecious.

3. Ginkgo

Ginkgo (istock)

You can say that ginkgo is one of the closest relatives of cycads and it is from Ginkgophyta division. They have slender, large and can grow till maximum 160feet with shade-intolerant and distinctive fan-shaped leaves. They are a very great plant due to resistant in cold and wind climate plus they are not easy to wither from insect damage or disease.

Sadly, these trees are among rare variety because they are exclusive to China and can live for thousand of years. They are very beautiful in form of fan-shaped leaves and will turn into yellow in autumn season. As the trees turn older, their trunks and roots become deeper and thicker.

4. Gnetophytes

Gnetophyta (pinegreenwoods)

Gymnosperm examples from Gnetophyta division or Gnetophytes has small variety of species which can found from three genera such as Welwitschia, Gnetum and Ephedra. You can find some of Ephedra plants in desert areas or in cold regions like India in Himalayan mountains. Some of species have great medicinal properties and usually they are taken as decongestant drug ingredient source.

READ: Dicot Plants Examples That You Can Commonly Find

Meanwhile other two genera, Gnetum can be found in tropical forest and Welwitschia plants are exclusive in Namib Dessert or some areas in South West Africa. Their leaves have wide variety of shapes but usually flat and broad which often have similar appearance of the leaves from flowering plants.

Those are gymnosperms examples which you need to know if you are interested in learning about wide variety of plants structure.


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