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Coniferophyta is a plant division that is easily noticeable due to their open seeds, which are usually in cones. Most coniferophyta are needle leaved and green throughout the year. The distinct characteristic of plants in this phylum is that they are all cone bearing. The cones are of different sizes and shapes. Most coniferophyta have one trunk (Calver et al. 249). Some species of coniferophyta include pine and spruce. Coniferophyta thrive in some of the most inhabitable locations on the planet. They thrive in high latitudes and altitudes. These plants have several adaptations that enable them to thrive in locations where other plants cannot thrive.
To survive in harsh environments, coniferophyta should have minimal loss of water to the environment. Coniferophyta have a thick outer back that is water and pathogen proof, which prevents the plant from loss of excess water and insulates internal living cells from the harsh external environment. Some plants in the division have barks that protect them from fires. Barks of coniferophyta also produce wax that helps reduce water loss (Bailey 59). In addition, survival in the harsh necessitates the plants to have roots that would enable them absorb as much water as possible. Coniferophyta have a strong tap root system that is highly branched and extensive, which enables the plants obtain adequate water.
Coniferophyta have sunken stomata that help reduce loss of water. In addition, plants in this division have an epidermis that has a thick cuticle and its walls are lignified. Coniferophyta also have a sclerified hypodermis. All this helps to reduce water loss through the leaves. In addition, coniferophyta have needlelike leaves that ensure that the plants lose very little water through evapotranspiration (Solomon et al. 617). Coniferophyta have an unbranched vascular that is in the center of the leaf; this reduces the amount of water that the leaves loose to the external environment.
Effects of Flowering Plants on Humans and Civilization
Humans depend on plants directly in various ways. Plants produce food that nourishes the human body. Flowering plants fulfill a sizeable percentage of the nutritional needs of human beings. Flowering plants provide humans with carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and fibers. People have appreciated the nutritional importance of fruits since ancient times. Flowering plants do not just help to nourish the body, but they also help in maintaining people’s health. Vitamins and minerals help improve the body’s immunity and prevent people from getting various diseases. In addition, flowering plants are used to make various beverages, including coffee, tea, beer and wine. Thus, the importance of flowering plants as food cannot be underestimated.
Apart from being food, flowering plants also have medicinal and poisonous properties. Use of flowering plants due to their medicinal and poisonous properties is a practice that has begun even before civilization of humanity. A sizeable percentage of medicines are derived from flowering plants. Garlic and Aloe Vera are some of the flowering plants that have numerous medicinal properties. Some of the medicinal uses of Aloe Vera include reducing inflammation in the body and moisturizing the skin (Burke 19). In fact, most of the medicinal plants are flowering plants. Pharmacists copy the structure of active compounds in medicinal plants to make artificial compounds that are used to make drugs. Thus, it is pertinent to say that plants are used to make almost all drugs.
Flowering plants help fuel various industries that contribute to economic development. Flowering plants fuel the lumbering industries, tanning industry, and the cosmetic industry. Flowering plants are used directly in these industries, or they produce products that have driven the industries. Some of the products of flowering plants include tannin, pigments, and fragrances. In addition, farming is one of the major economic activities in various countries.
Types of Flowers
Classification of flowers is based on whether they have all flower parts (complete or incomplete) or on whether they have all the reproductive parts (perfect or imperfect). Complete flowers have a stamen, pistil, petals, and sepals. Most plants that depend on cross-pollination, movement of pollen grain from one plant to another, have complete flowers. Legumes are a good example of plants that have complete flowers (Sheaffer and Moncada 130). The features of complete flowers enable them to cross-pollinate effectively. Without these features, the flowers would not be able to cross-pollinate. On the other hand, just as their name implies, incomplete flowers lack one or more of the four flower parts. Incomplete flowers may lack sepals and petals. Grass is a good example of incomplete flower. Grass lacks sepals and petals and instead has leaves like coverings on stamens and pistils (Sheaffer and Moncada 130). Incomplete flowers do not have efficient cross-pollination. In grass, lack of sepals and petals means that winds carries pollen grains away easily making the pollen not to attach them on the stigma.
Perfect flowers have both male and female organs – the pistils and stamens. Therefore, the plant can be pollinated by pollen of the same plant (Patterson et al. 81). On the other hand, imperfect flowers have only one organ. They may only the male organs (stamens) or female organs (pistils); this means that fertilization of incomplete flowers is only through cross-pollination. Squash and corn are some of the plants that have imperfect flowers. Plants with imperfect flowers are divided into two main categories: monoecious and dioecious plants. Monoecious plants have both male and female flowers on the same plant, whereas dioecious plants have separate male and female plants (Sheaffer and Moncada 131). A good example of a monoecious plant is corn, whereas hops and buffalo grass are examples of dioecious plants.
Competitive Advantages of Flowering Plants
Flowering plants are common in virtually every habitat on the planet. The existence of flowering plants in several plants is not by accident; it is by design. Flowering plants have several competitive advantages over other plants that enable them to thrive in a remote location. Flowering plants reproduce through seeds, which usually have a tough resistant coat that enable them survive even in harsh conditions. Thus, it is the main reason that makes flowering plants very dominant in the plant kingdom. During evolution, seeds of flowering plants survived in extremely harsh conditions and ultimately gave rise to other plants, which ensured that flowering plants did not become extinct. However, non-flowering plants do not reproduce through seeds. Therefore, they were unable to survive the extreme conditions which led to the extinction of several species of non-flowering plants (Niklas 205). It is one of the main reasons that explain why there are more flowering plants than non-flowering.
As it is mentioned before, flowering plants reproduce via seeds. Pollination is critical for the development of the seeds. Plants may have self-pollination or cross-pollination. Self-pollination refers to the pollination of the stigma from the pollen of the same plant whereas cross-pollination refers to the pollination of the stigma from pollen of other plants. Self-pollination reduces the range of variation of plants whereas crosspollination increases the range of variation of plants (Weberling 316). In most instances, fertilization is through cross-pollination. Cross-pollination leads to increased variation of plants, which may have characteristics that enable them to be more adapted to certain habitats than non-flowering plants (Geber et al. 113). However, non-flowering plants have a less likelihood of variation that denies them an ability to conform to changes in the habitat.
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