Angiosperm vs. Gymnosperm: 27 Differences, Examples

Differences between Angiosperm and Gymnosperm
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Angiosperm Definition

Angiosperms are the flowering plants that are the largest and most diverse groups of plants in the kingdom Plantae.

  • These plants occupy about 80% of all green plants present on earth.
  • Angiosperms are found in almost environments ranging from mountains to deep-sea surfaces to deserts.
  • These are vascular plants that bear seed and flowers. They exist in different forms; herbs, trees, shrubs, etc.
  • The flower is the reproductive organ of plants which consists of both male and female reproductive parts.
  • The flowers, after fertilization, mature into fruits. The seeds are formed and are enclosed within the fruits. Based on the number of seed leaves, angiosperms are divided into monocotyledons and dicotyledons.
  • The cells and tissues in angiosperms are specialized to perform different functions within the plant.
  • These plants have specialized vascular tissues, xylem, and phloem that help transport water, mineral, and food to a different part of the plant.
  • Because the plants in angiosperm are highly diverse, their size also varies within the group with the largest flowering plants being as tall as 100 meters and the smallest being two millimeters.
  • Most flowering plants are either herbaceous or woody. Some are annuals, while others are biennials.
  • They develop the vegetative parts of the plant during the first half of their growth while the reproductive parts like flowers are developed later.
  • The basic structure of all angiosperm consists of a stem, roots, and leaves.
  • Angiosperms have both a taproot and fibrous root system, both of which grow vertically downwards.
  • From the taproot, lateral roots are formed that grow either horizontally or diagonally.
  • In the case of a fibrous root, however, the primary roots are as long as the secondary roots or might even exceed the length of the primary root.
  • The stem is the main axis of the plant that bears the flowers and the leaves.
  • The leaves are of different types and remain attached to the stem. The leaves might have reticulate or parallel venation.

Gymnosperm Definition

Gymnosperms are vascular plants that have exposed or naked seeds that are not even visible until maturity.

  • The seeds in gymnosperms are mostly observed in the form of cones.
  • The cells and tissues in angiosperms are specialized to perform different functions within the plant.
  • These plants have specialized vascular tissues, xylem, and phloem that help transport water, mineral, and food to a different part of the plant.
  • In most gymnosperms, the male pollen cones also called microstrobili, have reduced leaves, called microsporophylls.
  • The pollen sacs, also termed microsporangia, are formed at the base of the microsporophylls.
  • The female cones are termed megastrobili that might be present on either the same plant with male cones or on a different plant.
  • Like microstrobili, megastrobili also have reduced leaves, called megasporophylls that contain megasporangium.
  • Within the sporangium, the cells undergo meiotic division to form haploid cells which are then dispersed by different means for fertilization.
  • After fertilization, the embryo matures and has two or more cotyledons. Plants like Cycads have two cotyledons while Pine and other conifers might have several (8-18) cotyledons.
  • The seeds of the plant are not covered with fruit, and they do not form fruits. Instead, the seeds remain exposed as cones.
  • The basic structure of gymnosperm is similar to angiosperm, consisting of a stem, roots, and leaves.
  • The leaves of gymnosperms are scale-like or needle-like while the stems are mostly woody.
  • The root system also might be either taproot or a fibrous system depending on the plant.

Key Differences (Angiosperm vs Gymnosperm)

Basis for Comparison



Definition Angiosperms are the flowering plants that are the largest and most diverse groups of plants in the kingdom Plantae. Gymnosperms are vascular plants that have exposed or naked seeds that are not even visible until maturity.
Seed Seeds are enclosed inside an ovary that matures to form a fruit. Seeds are exposed and might be present in the form of cones.
Flowers These are flowering plants and thus have flowers. These are non-flowering plants and thus do not have flowers.
Reproductive system These are mostly bisexual while some might be unisexual. These are mostly unisexual while some might be bisexual.
Stem The stem is made up of hardwood. The stem is made up of softwood.
Leaves The leaves in these plants are broad and flat. The leaves are either needle-like or scale-like.
Xylem Xylem forms vessels in angiosperms. Xylem does not form vessels in gymnosperms.


Sepals and petals are present. Sepal and petals are absent.
Sporophylls contain stout thalamus. Sporophylls have a long elongated axis.
The female reproductive part is developed into a carpel. The female reproductive part is developed into a wooden structure.
Stigma and style are present. Gymnosperms do not have stigma and style.
Microsporophyll is present in the form of a stamen. Stamen is further divided into an anther and a filament. The microsporophyll is present as a broad sterile head where there is no distinction between the anther and the filament.
The ovary of the carpel contains ovules which are attached by means of placenta. The ovules in gymnosperms are present on the megasporophyll without any placenta.
Ovules are present on a stalk. Ovules of gymnosperms are sessile.
Two thin layers of micropyle surround an ovule. Three layers of micropyle surround an ovule.
Most angiosperms have four pollen sacs or microsporangia. The number of microsporangia ranges from two to hundreds.
Male gamete The male gamete has no flagella and thus is deposited on the egg. The male gamete has flagella and thus can swim to the egg.
Embryo sac The embryo sac is seven celled and eight nucleated. The embryo sac is parenchymatous and large.
Archegonia Angiosperms have no archegonia. Gymnosperms have distinct archegonia present.
Cotyledons The seeds have one or two cotyledons. The seeds have two or many cotyledons.
Endosperm The endosperm is triploid. The endosperm is haploid.
Dispersion The primary mode of dispersion is animals. The primary mode of dispersion is wind.
Fertilization Double fertilization takes place where both male gametes are functional. One performs the generative fertilization while the other performs vegetative fertilization. Only one type of fertilization takes place, and only one male gamete is functional.
Development of seed The embryo develops inside the ovary which finally matures into a fruit. The embryo develops on the megasporophyll, and no fruit is formed.
Lifecycle These plants are mostly season. Some might be perennial or biennials. Most of these plants are evergreen plants.
Uses Most angiosperms have economic value as they can be used as ornaments or decorations. Most gymnosperms provide softwood which can be used to make paper, plywood, and lumber.
Examples Mustard, Rose, Spinach, Cauliflower, etc. Pine, Cycad, Sago palm, Sequoia, etc.

Examples of Angiosperm


  • The mustard plant is somewhat worldwide in distribution with more than 350 genera. These are primarily found in the temperate region of the northern hemisphere.
  • Mustard is a cool-season crop that can be grown in short growing seasons. Although the seedlings are somewhat tolerant to mild frost, severe frost might destroy the plant.
  • Mustard plants start forming flowers after about five weeks of planting. The flowers are bright yellow to attract insects for pollination.
  • The flower then develops in fruit with mustard seeds inside.
  • Mustard seeds and oil have been traditionally used as a measure to relieve muscle pain, arthritic pain, and rheumatism.
  • The oil is used extensively in Indian, Pakistani, and German cooking. Mustard can be consumed as whole seed, ground, or powdered form or by preparing pastes, sauce to be used in the kitchen.


  • Roses form the third-largest plant family with more than 30000 species of roses found all over the globe.
  • Varieties of roses are found which vary in color from shades of red to pink to yellow. Roses have distinct fragrances that depend on the climatic condition during their blossom time.
  • The colorful flower of roses attracts insects, which helps in pollination. After fertilization, the bulb converts into fruits which enclose numerous seeds.
  • It takes about 6 to 8 weeks after planting during the spring season for the flower to blossom.
  • Roses are planted via grafting rather than through seeds as the viability of plants increases with grafting.
  • Roses are ornamental plants exclusively grown for decorative purposes. Some roses are cultivated to extract and formulate perfumes.

Examples of Gymnosperms


  • Conifers are woody cone-bearing seed plants with vascular tissues, most of which are trees and few shrubs and are most numerous of the gymnosperms.
  • Coniferous plants grow out, shaping like a triangle with characteristic long and pointy needle-shaped leaves.
  • Conifers are found growing almost every part of the world. However, they most notably cover the boreal forest of the northern hemisphere.
  • The megastrobilis acts as the female reproductive parts, which after fertilization forms cones with exposed seeds.
  • They are economically significant as they are used as softwood which is exclusively used for preparing paper and timber. They play major roles while cultivating pine nuts.
  • Notable examples of conifers include pines, yews, redwoods, cedars, etc.


  • Cycads have only around 15-20 species which are widely distributed in western as well as an eastern hemisphere.
  • Their appearance constitutes a single, stout, cylindrical, woody trunk and a crown of large, hard, stiff, evergreen compound leaves that grow into a rosette formation.
  • Cycads are deciduous and unique among cycads for not forming seed cones in female plants instead of a group of leaf-life structure (megasporophyll) with seeds in male individuals.
  • Several species of cycads such as C. circinalis, C. bedomei are grown as ornamental plants in gardens.
  • From the stem of some species, a kind of starch popularly called ‘sago’ is obtained hence the name sago palm.
  • Hats, basket, and mats are prepared from the leaves of C. revoluta. The leaves are also be used for floral decoration and other decorative purposes.

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About Author

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Anupama Sapkota

Anupama Sapkota has a bachelor’s degree (B.Sc.) in Microbiology from St. Xavier's College, Kathmandu, Nepal. She is particularly interested in studies regarding antibiotic resistance with a focus on drug discovery.

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