Non-vascular plant

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Non-vascular plant
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A thallose liverwort, Lunularia cruciata
A thallose liverwort, Lunularia cruciata
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Type Species
Simple nonvascular plants

  Green algae
Complex nonvascular plants
  Bryophyta, mosses
  Hepaticophyta, liverworts
  Anthocerotophyta, hornworts


Non-vascular plants is a general term for those plants (including the green algae) without a vascular system (xylem and phloem). Although non-vascular plants lack these particular tissues, a number of non-vascular plants possess tissues specialized for internal transport of water.

Nonvascular plants have no roots, stems, or leaves, since each of these structures is defined by containing vascular tissue. The lobes (rounded parts) of the liverwort may look like leaves, but they are not true leaves because they have no xylem or phloem. Likewise, mosses and algae have no such tissues.

Non-vascular groups

The term non-vascular plant is no longer used in scientific nomenclature. Non-vascular plants include two distantly related groups:

  • Bryophytes - the Bryophyta (mosses), the Hepaticophyta (liverworts), and the Anthocerotophyta (hornworts). In these groups, the primary plants are haploid, with the only diploid portion being the attached sporophyte, consisting of a stalk and sporangium. Because these plants lack the water-conducting tissues, they fail to achieve the structural complexity and size of most vascular plants.
  • Algae - especially the green algae. Recent studies have demonstrated that the algae actually consist of several unrelated groups. It turns out that common features of living in water and photosynthesis were misleading as indicators of close relationship. Only the green algae are still considered relatives of the plants.

Both of these groups may be termed the "lower" plants; the term "lower" refers to these plants' status as the earliest plants to evolve. However, the term "lower" plants is not precise, since it frequently is used to include some vascular plants, the ferns and fern allies.

In the past, the term non-vascular plant included all the algae, but also the fungi as well. Today, it is recognized that these groups are not closely related to plants, and have a very different biology.

See also


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