Virtually all other living creatures depend on plants to survive. Through photosynthesis, plants convert energy from sunlight into food stored as carbohydrates. Because animals cannot get energy directly from the sun, they must eat plants (or other animals that have had a vegetarian meal) to survive. Plants also provide the oxygen humans and animals breathe, because plants use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and release oxygen into the atmosphere.
Plants are found on land, in oceans, and in fresh water. They have been on Earth for millions of years. Plants were on Earth before animals and currently number about 260,000 species. Plants have chlorophyll, a green pigment necessary for ...view middle of the document...
Also included among the non-vascular plants is Chlorophyta , a kind of fresh-water algae.
Unlike mosses, ferns and related species have a vascular system, but like mosses, they reproduce from spores rather than seeds. The ferns are the most plentiful plant division in this group, with 12,000 species. Other divisions (the fern allies) include Club mosses or Lycopods (Lycopodiophyta) with 1,000 species, Horsetails (Equisetophyta) with 40 species, and Whisk ferns (Psilophyta) with 3 species.
Conifers and allies (Coniferophyta and allies) Conifers reproduce from seeds, but unlike plants like blueberry bushes or flowers where the fruit or flower surrounds the seed, conifer seeds (usually cones) are “naked.” In addition to having cones, conifers are trees or shrubs that never have flowers and that have needle-like leaves. Included among conifers are about 600 species including pines, firs, spruces, cedars, junipers, and yew. The conifer allies include three small divisions with fewer than 200 species all together: Ginko (Ginkophyta) made up of a single species, the maidenhair tree; the palm-like Cycads (Cycadophyta), and herb-like plants that bear cones (Gnetophyta) such as Mormon tea.
The vast majority of plants (around 230,000) belong to this category (flowering plant), including most trees, shrubs, vines, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Plants in this category are also called angiosperms. They differ from conifers because they grow their seeds inside an ovary, which is embedded in a flower or fruit. (Pearson Education, Inc., 2007)