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Vascular Plants Vs Non-Vascular Plants: Definition, 18+ Differences, Examples

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Vascular Plants Definition

Vascular plants, also called tracheophytes, are terrestrial plants with lignified tissues that transmit water and minerals throughout the plant’s body.

  • Water-conducting xylem tissue and food-conducting phloem tissue make up these lignified tissues, which are also known as vascular tissue.
  • For the transportation of diverse chemicals, vascular tissue creates a central column, also known as a stele, across the plant axis.
  • Because vascular tissues are present, vascular plants are said to have a genuine stem, leaves, and roots.
  • The root is a real root that allows the plant to bind itself to the soil and absorb nutrients.
  • The broad leaves have stomata, which help with gas exchange and transpiration.
  • Vascular tissue is stratified in the stems of vascular plants, which aids in the protection and transmission of food and water.
  • These concerns may be arranged differently in different groups of plants, depending on the pattern of cell division.
  • The xylem is made up of non-living substances, tracheids, and vesicles that are toughened by lignin to give the tissue a strong structure. The phloem, on the other hand, comprises non-lignified live sieve components.
  • Vascular plants can survive on land because they can transfer food, water, and minerals to various sections of the plant by exerting pressure on the tissues.
  • They also have a few changes that make it easier for them to survive on land.
  • Another important feature of vascular plants is that their main generation phase is the sporophytic phase, during which they create diploid spores.
  • Because of their ability to carry vital substances to all regions of the body via vascular tissue, vascular plants are tall and enormous in size when compared to non-vascular plants.

Definition of Vascular Plants

Non-Vascular Plants Definition

Non-vascular plants, also known as bryophytes or lower plants, are plants that do not have specific vascular tissues and are typically found in damp and moist environments.

  • These plants lack both xylem and phloem, making them primitive plants with primitive components.
  • Higher structural forms of algae, mosses, liverworts, and hornworts make up non-vascular plants.
  • These creatures prefer to dwell near water, in swamps, bogs, or shaded areas. As a result of the lack of vascular tissues, they are also comparably shorter and simpler.
  • Non-vascular plants lack genuine roots, stems, and leaves, and the tissues that do exist are the least specialised.
  • They have rhizoids, which are hair-like structures that hold the plant securely to the ground instead of actual roots. Diffusion and osmosis are used to absorb water and minerals in the rhizoids.
  • There are no true leaves, and there is no specialised tissue to protect against water loss or the process of transpiration.
  • The stem is made up of simpler tissue and is feeble, unable to support the plant in the same way that vascular plants can.
  • With haploid gametophytes, the gametophyte production is more prevalent in non-vascular plants. These plants’ sporophytes develop from their gametophytes and are reliant on them for water and minerals.
  • Non-vascular plants are the first plants to emerge from the evolutionary process.
  • These plants are divided into two categories: algae and bryophytes.
  • Algae are lower plants that are green in colour and capable of photosynthesis but lack genuine structures.
  • Bryophytes are plants that feed on dead and decaying matter, such as most mosses and liverworts. They are found in shaded regions and feed on dead and decaying matter.
  • Non-vascular plants are frequently used as pioneer species since they do not require a lot of nutrients or water to survive and may flourish in arid environments.
  • A non-vascular plant can survive in vascular plant-infested regions by employing numerous evolutionary tactics.
  • Moss, algae, liverwort, and hornwort are examples of non-vascular plants.

Difference Between Vascular Vs Non-Vascular Plants

(Vascular Plants vs Non-Vascular Plants)

Basis for Comparison Vascular Plants Non-Vascular Plants

Vascular plants are terrestrial plants with lignified tissues that carry water and minerals throughout their bodies.

Non-vascular plants are those that lack specific vascular tissues and are found in damp and moist environments.

Also known as

Tracheophytes are vascular plants that are also known as tracheophytes.

Bryophytes or lower plants are other names for non-vascular plants.


Plants with circulatory systems are more abundant and diverse than those without.

In comparison to vascular plants, non-vascular plants are less numerous and diversified.


Vascular plants are land plants that may thrive in a variety of habitats.

Non-vascular plants thrive in moist, gloomy, or marshy environments.
Vascular system

The existence of a vascular tissue system with lignified xylem tissue and sieved phloem tissue distinguishes vascular plants.

Non-vascular plants are characterised by the absence of a vascular tissue system.

Cell arrangement

In vascular plants, where the arrangement of cells is more complex and largely unique to each families, division of labour is a key feature.

In non-vascular plants, cell arrangement is much simpler than in vascular plants.

Strength The lignified tissue structure is robust and rigid, providing the plant with support and rigidity Due to the lack of water-conducting tissue, non-vascular plants are more delicate and shorter than vascular plants.

The sporophyte is a major life cycle in vascular plants, where they produce diploid spores.

In non-vascular plants, the gametophyte lifecycle is the most prominent or dominant, in which they create haploid gametes.


In vascular plants, the root is comprised of branches that support and bind the plant to the soil in order to absorb nutrients.

Instead of actual roots, non-vascular plants have rhizoids with fine hair-like structures.

The roots take water and minerals from the soil that the plant need.

Diffusion or osmosis provide them with water, nutrients, and minerals from the soil.
Stem In vascular plants, the stem is multilayered, with xylem and phloem forming a conducting route that runs through the main axis.

Non-vascular plants have no actual stems.


There are true leaves present, which have definite forms and play a significant role in photosynthesis.

There are no true leaves.

Stomata, which are vital for gas exchange, are found on the leaves. There is no specific tissue in the leaves for gas exchange or transpiration.
Cuticles Cuticles protect the plant against desiccation on its leaves and other parts. There are no cuticles on these plants.

Vascular plants are more advanced non-vascular plants that evolved later on the planet than non-vascular plants.

Plants that do not have a circulatory system were among the earliest to appear on the planet.

Pioneer species Vascular plants are not pioneer species because they appear later  in the biological succession. In numerous ecological successions, non-vascular plants act as pioneer species.

Maize, mustard, rose, cycad, ferns, clubmosses, grasses, and other vascular plants are examples.

Moss, algae, liverwort, and hornwort are examples of non-vascular plants.

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 Vascular Plants Examples

(a) Fern

  • Lower vascular plants, such as ferns, have specialised conducting tissues called xylem and phloem that move water, minerals, and food particles.
  • These are spore-reproducing non-flowering vascular plants having real stems, roots, and leaves.
  • The number of fern species known to date ranges from 10,000 to 11,000, but other estimates suggest that more than 15,000 species may exist, including those found in tropical forests that have yet to be studied.
  • The habitats, shapes, and reproductive systems of these plants are all unique. Their sizes range from fragile and small to big trees reaching a height of 25 metres.
  • Ferns are primarily found in damp, warm environments, and their numbers decrease as altitude and moisture decrease.
  • Ferns play a vital role in ecological succession because they grow in fissures of bare rocks and marsh areas before woody vegetation takes over.
  • Long-distance dispersal of these plants is enabled by spore dispersal and their ability to produce both gametes and self-fertilize.

(b) Cycad

  • Gymnosperms (non-flowering vascular plants) with established roots, stems, leaves, and vascular systems are referred to as cycads.
  • These are massive trees with woody stems that reach three to five feet in height.
  • There are only about 15-20 species of cycads that are extensively dispersed in both the western and eastern hemispheres.
  • These plants grow in forests, but they are also cultivated by farmers as wood and animal fodder.
  • A single, thick, cylindrical, woody stem with a crown of enormous, hard, stiff, evergreen compound leaves that grow into a rosette arrangement characterise their appearance.
  • These plants are deciduous and uncommon among gymnosperms in that female plants generate seed cones rather than a clump of leaf-life structures (megasporophyll) with seeds.
  • Cycad species like C. circinalis and C. bedomei are used as attractive plants in gardens.
  • Cycads are sometimes known as sago palms because they produce a type of starch known as’sago’ from the stems of some varieties.
  • C. revolute leaves are used to make hats, baskets, and mates. The leaves can also be utilised to make floral arrangements and other decorative items.

Non-Vascular Plants Examples

(a) Moss

  • Moss is a non-vascular plant that can be found in a variety of settings, but is most commonly found in dark, marshy places.
  • These are some of the few living organisms, known as pioneer species, that were among the first to inhabit barren and soilless regions. Carpet forests and forest floors are the most common habitats for these creatures.
  • Mosses are found in a wide range of habitats, from the frigid arctic to arid areas. There are roughly 12,000 species of mosses recognised globally.
  • Their size varies as well, with some being minuscule and others standing over a foot tall.
  • They can’t get very tall because they lack vascular tissue, which prevents them from transporting water and minerals to the top of the plant.
  • They have rhizoids in place of roots, which are ineffective at absorbing water and minerals from the soil.
  • Because the stem, or leaf-like structures, are a part of the gametophyte, the gametophytic phase is more dominant.
  • The gametophyte matures into the sporophytic phase, which produces spores that aid reproduction.

(b) Liverwort

  • Liverworts are non-vascular plants that develop in the form of tiny, leafy structures.
  • These are generally found close to the ground in damp, gloomy, or marshy environments. Even though they are located all over the world, they are usually found in tropical places.
  • The gametophytic structure of the plant that develops specialised organs to accommodate the sporophytic phase is known as the thallus.
  • Liverworts are similar to hornworts but can be identified by the differences in the thallus and sporophyte structure.
  • These are primitive plants having rhizoids in place of roots for soil attachment and absorption of water and minerals.
  • These aren’t particularly useful to humans, but they provide food for animals, help logs degrade, and aid in the integration of rocks throughout ecological succession.
  • Liverworts are a pioneer species, meaning they were among the first living things to appear during primary succession.



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