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Difference between Angiosperms and Gymnosperms

Plants that produce seeds are called spermatophytes. They are divided into two groups: angiosperms and gymnosperms. Let us see how angiosperms differ from gymnosperms:


Angiosperms are commonly known as flowering plants as they produce flowers. It is the largest group of plants in the plant kingdom which makes up around 80 percent of all plant species found on Earth. The term angiosperm is derived from two Greek words: angeion, means "vessels" and sperma, means "seed". As the term implies, their seeds develop within a protective outer coat called ovary which develops into a fruit after the fertilization. The angiosperms are also known as angiospermae or magnoliophyta.

The flower is the reproductive structure in the angiosperms. A flower has stamen, which comprises anther and filament, as a male structure or male reproductive organ. It has carpel, which comprises stigma, style and ovary, as a female structure or female reproductive organ.

On the basis of seed type, the angiosperms are divided into two main classes: dicots and monocots. Angiosperms whose seeds have two cotyledons or seed leaves after germination are called dicots or dicotyledons and whose seeds have one cotyledon or seed leaf after germination are called monocots or monocotyledons.


Gymnosperms are commonly known as non-flowering plants as they do not produce flowers. They generally grow in xerophytic or dry conditions and are the first plants to have seeds. The term gymnosperm is derived from two Greek words: gymnos, means "naked" and sperma, means "seed". As the term implies, their seeds are naked or lack an outer coat, as they develop on the surface of scales and leaves and are not contained within an ovary as in angiosperms. So, the seeds are open to the air and are directly fertilized by pollination.

Typical gymnosperms have male and female cones. The male cone has microsporophylls where pollen grains are produced. The female cone has the megaspore mother cell which produces four haploid megaspores through meiosis. One of the megaspores divides to form a female gametophyte. Pollination occurs when pollen grains land on the female cone.

Gymnosperms are divided into four divisions:

  • Coniferophyta: It is the biggest division of gymnosperms. Their seeds are present on cones or berrylike structures, e.g. pines, firs, junipers, cypress, redwoods and more.
  • Cycadophyta: Gymnosperms of this division look like ferns except they have seeds. E.g. Cycad
  • Ginkgophyta: They are large trees mainly found in China. E.g. Ginkgo biloba.
  • Gnetophyta: Their reproductive structure is similar to that of flowering plants or angiosperms. E.g. Gnetum

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between angiosperms and gymnosperms are as follows:

Angiosperms Angiosperms
Flowering plants whose seeds are enclosed within a protective coat like an ovary (part of carpel). Non-flowering plants, whose seeds are naked, not enclosed within a protective coat.
Seed develop inside the ovary. Seeds are found on the surface of scales.
Generally found in xerophytic or dry conditions. Found in all types of climate.
Produce cones for reproduction. Produce flowers for reproduction.
Vessels are present in the xylem. Vessels are absent in the xylem except for Gnetales.
Companion cells are present in the phloem. Companion cells are absent in the phloem.
Ovules are enclosed within the ovary. Ovules are naked, not enclosed in the carpel.
The stigma of the carpel receives the pollen. Ovules directly receive the pollens.
Pollination occurs by various agencies like wind, water, insects, birds, animals etc. Pollination occurs only by the wind.
Archegonia are absent. Archegonia are present.
Double fertilization takes place. Double fertilization does not occur.
Endosperm is usually triploid. Endosperm is haploid tissue.
Fruits are produced. Fruits are not produced.
Reproductive structures are present in cones which are unisexual. Reproductive structures are present in flowers which can be unisexual or bisexual.
They generally have long, thin, needle-shaped leaves which stay green throughout the year. Their leaves are flat, broad which change colour and die every autumn.
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