Plants are classified into several different types including the mosses and liverworts (Bryophyta), the clubmosses and horsetails, the ferns (seedless Tracheophyta), and the gymnosperms and angiosperms (seed plants). Only the last group the angiosperms have flowers. Gymnosperms are all woody plants, mostly cone bearing evergreens such as hemlock, pine, spruce, eastern red cedar and bald cypress.
At this time the overwhelming number of plant species on earth are flowering plants. Flowering plants are a recent group, not found in the fossil record before the Cretaceous time period. Before the Cretaceous, our forests and meadows were made up of many different species of "lower" plants. Today the lower plants have declined drastically in numbers of species. Many of these species are known now only by the fossils they left behind when they became extinct. There are several links below to web pages about fossil plants. Many of these pages have excellent photographs of these extinct plants.
The table below will allow you to get a reasonable idea of how the major groups of plants differ from one another.
|Plant group||Leaves, Roots, Stems||Vascular Tissue||Seeds||Flowers|
|Club mosses Horsetails||yes||yes||no||no|
Published 15 July 2001. Revised 26 July 2012
falls of the Ohio State Park