Bryophytes vs. Tracheophytes

The difference between bryophytes and tracheophytes

Because of the many common features between the many species of plants it has been very difficult to classify them. The most basic classification exists between plants that have been classified as being either bryophytes or tracheophytes. That is because every plant on the earth falls into one of these categories, but even botany students often find it difficult to be able to distinguish between them.

What are tracheophytes?

Tracheophytes have a vascular system and for this reason they are referred to as higher order plants. This vascular system consists of tissues known as xylem that carry water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves. Another feature is that they have phloem that carries the carbohydrates from the leaves to all other parts of the plant. The carbohydrates are produced by photosynthesis. Phloem is like sap and because of the presence of this sap in plants such as ferns, bushes, trees, grass and cacti, all of these plants are tracheophytes.

What are bryophytes?

Bryophytes do not have a vascular system and therefore they do not have a system of specialized cells and tissues to transport water and nutrients. None of the plants in this classification have roots, although there are some that have rhizomes, which means they do have a stem of the plant that extends under the ground. Each cell in bryophytes has to find its own food and water and studies have not been able to find any evidence that nutrients are transferred from one part of the plant to another.

For this reason byrophytes refer to plants that are found in or near water because they can only survive in such areas or in places of high humidity. Adaptations to the plants have made it possible for them to live in hot, dry areas though because they can go dormant for a period of time. Tracheophytes can also dormant, but it is usually to survive the cold temperatures of the winter months.

The difference between tracheophytes and byrophytes

Because they do not have an inbuilt transportation network in the form of a vascular system, bryophytes grow horizontally. Tracheophytes can grow upright because of the specialized tissues and cells that bring water and nutrients to the leaves and carbohydrates back from the leaves to the tissues and cells. These plants can grow very tall, such as certain varieties of trees.

Moss is an example of a bryophyte, as are hornworts and liverworts. Scientists suspect that bryophytes are the earliest forms of plants that exist on earth and tracheophytes are adaptations of these plants that have become more complex.

Summary

  1. There are two classifications of plants – bryophytes and tracheophytes.
  2. Tracheophytes have a vascular system in which water and nutrients are transported from the roots to the leaves and carbohydrates are transported from the leaves to the rest of the plant.
  3. Bryophytes do not have a vascular system and therefore can only survive near water.
  4. Ferns, cacti, grasses and bushes are examples of tracheophytes.
  5. Moss is an example of a bryophytes.
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