Conifers and flowering plants are both vascular plants that have defined structures to carry water and nutrients throughout their structures. Both plant types also reproduce by the production of seeds but the way they go about it is decidedly different.
Conifers are gynosperms, which translated means “naked seed.” The seeds produced are not held inside a fruit. Conifers first appeared about 285 million years ago.
Flowering plants are angiosperms, which have ovaries that develop into fruits to protect the seeds. They appeared after the conifers, about 135 million years ago.
Conifer Sex Organs
Conifers produce cones, or strobili. Male cones, containing pollen and female cones, containing the eggs can both form on a single tree.
Flowering Plant Sex Organs
Flowering plants have their sex organs in their blossoms. The male organs, the stamens, consist of the anthers that hold the pollen and filaments that support the anthers. The pistil is the female organ made up of the ovaries which hold the ovules, the stigma that catches the pollen and the style that is a tube like structure leading to the ovaries.
Conifers produce millions of pollen grains, each with little flaps that help with wind dispersal. Though some flowering plants, such as grasses, depend on wind dispersal, the majority invite the help of insects, birds and animals for pollination. This can be done by displaying colorful blossoms, emitting sweet scents and/or offering nectar for their helpers.
Fertilization occurs when the pollen meets the egg. In conifers the seeds develop in the female cone. In flowering plants, once the pollen grain reaches the ovary the ovules are fertilized. The petals drop off and a fruit begins to form around the developing seeds.
- Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Jenn