Gymnosperms vs Pteridophytes

Differences between Gymnosperms and Pteridophytes

Studying biology without studying the differences between different living organisms is like a cake without the icing. On comparing we can find numerous differences between Gymnosperms and Pteridophytes. According to August Wilhelm Eichler’s classification, Pteridophytes are classified as Cryptogams while Gymnosperms are classified as Phanerogams. Cryptogams is a term used to denote non-seed producing plants whereas Phanerogams is a term used to denote seed-producing plants. Let’s watch together the game ‘Gymnosperms vs Pteridophytes‘ and understand their biological differences. 

Differences between Gymnosperms and Pteridophytes

Differences between Gymnosperms and Pteridophytes

Pteridophytes: (‘Pteron’ means ‘feather’, ‘phyte’ means ‘plant’)

Pteridophytes, also referred to as vascular cryptogams are particularly an assemblage of seedless vascular plants. They have successfully invaded the land and reproduce particularly by spores. They do not produce seeds. The word ‘Pteridophytes’ is derived from the Greek word ‘Pteron‘ which means feather, it denotes the pinnate/feather-like fronds of Pteridophytes. There are about 13,000 species of pteridophytes. 

Examples: Psilotum nudum, Selaginella lepidophylla, Matteuccia struthiopteris (Fiddlehead fern-Ostrich fern) etc.

Also read- Difference between Indented Key and Bracketed Key – My Biology Dictionary



Gymnosperms: (‘Gymnos’ means ‘naked’, ‘sperma’ means ‘seed’)

These are specialized seed plants whose seeds are particularly naked i.e. their ovules are not enclosed inside the ovary of the carpel, rather these ovules occur on specialized modified leaves called sporophylls. Gymnosperms do not produce fruits. Gymnosperms are majorly represented by 88 genera and more than about 1000 species. These species belong to about 14 families. 

Examples: Ginkgo biloba, Cycas circinalis, Zamia pygmaea etc.


  1. Type of plants: Gymnosperms are mostly trees. Pteridophytes are usually perennial herbs or shrubs.
  2. Habitat: Gymnosperms occur in xerophytic conditions whereas Pteridophytes occur in moist, shady and terrestrial places.
  3. Types of Spores: Gymnosperms are heterosporous (a term for a plant that produces 2 different types of spores i.e. megaspores and microspores). Pteridophytes– the majority of them are homosporous like Pteris (a term for a plant that produces 1 type of spores), exception- Selaginella.
  4. Roots: Gymnosperms- The roots are taproots while Pteridophytes -The roots are adventitious.
  5. Stems: Gymnosperms-The stems are aerial. Pteridophytes -The stems are underground rhizomes.
  6. Vascular bundles arrangement: Gymnosperms-They have a eustelic organisation. Pteridophytes -Here eustele is absent.
  7. Xylem: Gymnosperms- Mature metaxylem shows bordered pits. Pteridophytes -Xylem elements are typically scalariform.
  8. Phloem: Gymnosperms- Sieve cells are shorter whereas Pteridophytes -Sieve elements identical to elongated parenchyma cells.
  9. Secondary Growth: Gymnosperms- Present. Pteridophytes -Absent (exceptions- Isoetes and Botrychium- secondary growth occurs but not as extensive as in gymnosperms).
  10. Seed formation: Gymnosperms- Seeds are produced whereas Pteridophytes -Seeds are not produced.
  11. Pollen tube formation: Gymnosperms-Occurs while in Pteridophytes -Does not occur.
  12. Female gametophyte: Gymnosperms-The female gametophyte is retained within the megaspore. Pteridophytes -The female gametophyte is not retained within the megaspore. 
  13. Male gametophyte: Gymnosperms- Partial development occurs within the sporangium. Pteridophytes -Spores germinate only after liberation from the sporangium.
  14. Neck Canal Cells: Gymnosperms- Absent but Pteridophytes -Present.
  15. Need of water for fertilization: Gymnosperms- No whereas in Pteridophytes -Yes.

Differences between Gymnosperms and Pteridophytes

If you ever get a question in the exam for the same, YOU CAN TRUST US!!

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Team MBD

For beautiful images of Gymnosperms, check out 135 Gymnosperm Stock Video Footage – 4K and HD Video Clips | Shutterstock

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