Reminder: Clicking on the picture will take you to the site where I originally found it.
We know plants well. We live among them, we eat them, we inhale the gasses they exhale, we may even have one living in the house with us. Most likely, you've played guessing games where you've grouped things into animal, vegetable or mineral. We seem to have a pretty good grasp on what is a plant.
The plants have news for you though; they're not all alike. Among the plant kingdom there are wide differences. The plants want you to understand them better.
Probably the easiest way to tell if something is a plant is the color. Most plants are green, and for good reason. Plants have to make their own food, and they use chlorophyll to do this. This green chemical is what makes it possible for all life upon the earth (with the possible exception of some weird bacteria) to survive. Be grateful for the green. Hug a plant (gently) today.
Plants are rightfully divided based upon their structures and reproductive capabilities. The first group is made of non-vascular land plants. These are grouped together in the division known as the Bryophytes. You know them better as mosses.
Oh, that's another thing you should know. When scientists started classifying plants and animals, they called the major animal groupings "phyla" and the major plant groupings "divisions." These words mean roughly the same thing, but botanists (the plant scientists) still insist on using the term division. Botanists even use the term division to reference the fungi and protists, but zoologists (animal scientists) use the term phylum. If you haven't already guessed, I was influenced by the zoologists, but I'll humor the botanists.
Anyway, I digress. On with the plants.
The next segment of plants consists of four divisions. These are the vascular plants which multiply via spores. These spore-bearing plants are pretty cool, and you've most likely handled them before. The four divisions are:
A little later in history, seeds evolved, but these were naked seeds. The scientific term for naked seeds is gymnosperms. I can guarantee you've been close to a gymnosperm before. Ever hear of pine trees? There are four divisions which fit into the gymnosperms:
There is one more division to talk about, and that is the most familiar of all plant groups. These are the flowering and fruiting plants. They are known as angiosperms. If gymnosperms are naked seeds, angiosperms are covered seeds. They are covered with some kind of protection, often a fruit or other marerial.
This division isn't known as the angiosperms (or even angiospermophyta), it is called the anthophyta division.