Biology » Plant Reproduction » Reproductive Development and Structure

Angiosperms Versus Gymnosperms

Angiosperms versus Gymnosperms

Gymnosperm reproduction differs from that of angiosperms in several ways (see the figure below). In angiosperms, the female gametophyte exists in an enclosed structure—the ovule—which is within the ovary; in gymnosperms, the female gametophyte is present on exposed bracts of the female cone. Double fertilization is a key event in the lifecycle of angiosperms, but is completely absent in gymnosperms. The male and female gametophyte structures are present on separate male and female cones in gymnosperms, whereas in angiosperms, they are a part of the flower. Lastly, wind plays an important role in pollination in gymnosperms because pollen is blown by the wind to land on the female cones. Although many angiosperms are also wind-pollinated, animal pollination is more common.

 Photo A shows a deciduous tree that loses its leaves in winter. Photo B shows a conifer: a tree that has needles year round.

(a) Angiosperms are flowering plants, and include grasses, herbs, shrubs and most deciduous trees, while (b) gymnosperms are conifers. Both produce seeds but have different reproductive strategies. (credit a: modification of work by Wendy Cutler; credit b: modification of work by Lews Castle UHI)

Optional Video:

View an animation of the double fertilization process of angiosperms.

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