Types of Plants
A rough guide to the types of plants you can find from around the world. From the smallest, to the largest, we will guide you through they basics of the types of plants in the modern world!
Introduction to the Types of Plants
When you think about the types of plants you might think of trees, shrubs, flowers and similar. The actual taxonomy is however much more subtle and works with features that define how the plant lives, rather than arbitrary factors such as size.
When you think of types of animals for instance, you are much more likely to say mammals, birds, fish, and so on, the same method of classification can also be applied to types of plants.
Types of Plants
The types of plants can actually be slotted in to seven distinct categores, these can further be split in to types of plants based on the reproductive methods spores and seeds. These basic kinds of plants encompass every bit of vegitation that you see around you today!
Types of Plants with Spores
- Mosses and Liverworts
- Ferns and Horsetails
Types of Plants With Seeds
- Flowering plants
In this short guide I will be telling you a little about the different kinds of plants and what are the key differences which makes each one so special!
The History of Biological Taxonomy
Finding a way to organize the entire life on earth in to a simple taxonomy is a daunting task, and the first attemp was first made in the 18th century by Carolus Linnaeus. His innitial work grouped types of animals by their physical characteristics, and he created the basis for the current taxonomy map, including the kinds of plants on earth, that we use today.
Of course this has been much improved since his first attempts, as we have learned more evolution and even the DNA that forms the basic structure of life. Nowadays the clear taxonomies have allowed us to clearly and simply structure the kinds of plants and animals on Earth, which helps immensely when it comes to projects like the World Seed Bank and Global Seed Vault.
When it comes to kinds of plant life, you don't get as simple as algae. Each algae plant is smaller than can be seen by the human eye. Despite this you often see algae everywhere, as it grows in vast colonies of millions, all connected together.
You will see algae in many forms, most commonly as akind of pond scum in bodies of water that have little to no movement. Algae can also form much more complicated structures though, and you will often find it laying on the beach. You guessed it, it's seaweed!
Both green and brown algae can form seaweed, however brown algae is much more common in the ocean, where it can grow in excess of 250 feet, commonly known as Giant Kelp.
Algae is one of the most common forms of plant life, and the food stuff of whales. Due to the fast and easy growth of this type of plant however it is being heavily researched as both a source of food and a source of bio diesel.
Liverworts (The more common name for Marchantiophyta) are a damp loving prelude to mosses. They are thought to have appeared in the early stages of plant evolution as it crept from the ocean, and even today is most commonly found in damp areas.
Despite generally growing between 2mm to 20mm in size (Less than an inch!) There are an estimated 8000 species of Liverwort, many of which are very similar and can only be differentiated at a microscopic level. Liverworts do prefer hot and humid temperatures, but they appear all over the globe, even in arctic conditions.
Mosses are also generally a small plant, around 1cm to 10 cm in size. While some species can grow significantly larger, most variations of moss grow together in groups, giving the appearance of one singular large plant.
With over 12,000 species of moss, and this provides a huge amount of variation in everything from looks to reproduction. The wide variety of mosses as given them plenty of uses over the years, including fire fighting, bandaging of wounds, diapers, mittens, beddings, tampons, fertilizer and even in the creation of scotch whisky! This vast array of usage has definitely made it one of the most versatile types of plants to be used by human kind.
As a young child growing up in England I have an indepth knoweldge of how ferns can obscure fallen logs on hillsides, tretcherously tipping a thrill seeking rider from their bike, but also provding a soft enough cushion to break said riders fall and prevent any serious injuries.
From a more technical aspect however there are over 12,000 species of fern that grow around the globe, and like mosses and algae, they reproduce via spores, rather than seeds.
For the most part you will find ferns growing in wooded areas and in hard to reach locations, such as cliff faces.
Cycads are more often found in the southern hemisphere, and just over three hundred species still exist, nearly a quarter of which are on the endangered list. These kinds of plants are often recognised as palm trees, although many low growing variations also exist.
Cycads are very slow growing, and with their prominance in exotic locations has given them an image of a luxury plant.
Cycads are naturally hardy and long lasting, however deforrestation and dwindling populations have caused a continuing decline in population.
Ginkgo Biloba is the only surviving species of the Ginkgo family, and is commonly referred to as a living fossil since it has managed to survive through millions of years of history, relatively unchanged. As well as being one fo the few fauna to have survived such an immense length of time it has become famous throughout history for it's ability to help with memory retention, and the prevention of dementia.
While Ginkgo has plenty of use for medicinal purposes, even being commercially grown by the pharmacutical companies, it's uses are also aesthetic. The unusual leaves of the Ginkgo make it ideal for both garden growth, and for use as a bonsai plant, where it can be carefully cultivated and grown for centuries if pruned properly.
The Pinophyta branch of the plant kingdom is more commonly known as Conifers (Connifers outside the USA) and is used commonly in landscaping, hedgerows, treelines and of course as Christmas trees!
Conifers are both versatile, maliable, and resiliant which makes them perfect for use, especially in the northern hemisphere where they prosper.
Conifers are usually recognisable by their needle like leaves, and their seed 'cones', although they do vary greatly, with some conifers having wide leaves, and some cones even being encased in a berry like casing.
Conifers themeselves are exceptionally hardy, with many releasing protective sap when damaged, and scented sap to prevent infestation.
Conifers are widley used for soft wood timber production and paper as well as their aesthetic value. Huge crops of conifers are grown due to their fast growth, and high demand.
Flowering Plants (angiosperms)
Angiosperms, more commonly known as flowering plants are not just the things you find in your flowerbed. Everything from a mighty oak to a blade of grass as a flowering plant, and they make up a large portion of plant life on earth. Current estimates show the range of flowering plants to be at 250,000 to 400,000 species, making it the most diverse type of plant.
Angiosperms are used in nearly every part of day to day life. Our agriculture, medicine industry and our gardens are made up largely from this kind of plant, and it is still acknowledged that there are thousands more species left to discover!
Due to the vast size of the flowering plants family you can find it sectioned off in to plenty of subsections, but they all have the key characteristics of flowering plants in common! Flowering plants do of course reproduce via their flowers, however their success is in part down to tehir variety, which really is immense. A desert cactus, a tall forest tree, a humble blade fo grass or a beautiful sunflower, chances are you are looking at this amazing type of plant.
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