Vascular Vs Non-Vascular Plants-Definition, 17 Differences, Examples

Vascular Vs Non-Vascular Plants Overview

Vascular Plants Definition

  • Vascular vegetation, also known as tracheophytes, are land plants having lignified tissues that carry water and nutrients around their bodies.
  • Xylem tissue composes these lignified tissues, commonly referred to as vascular tissue, which conducts water, and phloem tissue, which conducts food.
  • Vascular cells form a central column, often known as a stele, that runs down the axis of the plant and is used to transport numerous substances.
  • Since vascular tissues are available, it is believed that vascular plants have true stems, leaves, and roots.
  • The root, which allows the plant to firmly grasp the earth and absorb nutrients from it, is a real root.
  • The wide leaves feature stomata that enhance gas exchange and facilitate transpiration.
  • Vascular tissue that is multilayered and found in the stems of vegetation that has a vascular system aids in the safeguarding and delivery of water and food.
  • Depending on how cells divide, the order of these problems may vary depending on the group of plants.
  • The xylem consists of tracheids, vesicles, and non-living material that has been hardened by lignin, which gives the structure of the tissue its firmness. On the other hand, the phloem includes live, lignified sieve components.
  • Vascular plants can survive on land because they can move nutrients and water by exerting pressure on the tissues. Specific parts of the plant are supplied with nutrients and minerals.
  • Additionally, they contain a number of adaptations that let them survive on the land.
  • A further essential characteristic among vascular plants would be that their main phase of production, during which they create diploid spores, is called the sporophytic phase.
  • Due to their capacity to employ circulatory tissue to carry essential nutrients to every area of the body, non-vascular plants are shorter and smaller than vascular plants.
  • Vascular plants are thought to be a more advanced variation of non-vascular plants, and hence developed later in the history of life.
  • Non-seed plants, also known as lower vascular plants or cryptograms, and seed plants, sometimes known as higher vascular plants or phanerogams, are the two categories of vascular plants.
  • Among the lowest vascular plants are ferns, which, although being adapted to living on land, nevertheless exhibit certain traits from their watery heritage.
  • The Pteridophyta class of plants includes these species.
  • Higher vascular plants come in a large variety of species and are further broken down into other groupings.
  • Maize, mustard, roses, cycads, ferns, clubmosses, grasses, and more are vascular plants.

Non-vascular Plants Definition

  • The term “non-vascular plants,” sometimes referred to as “bryophytes” or “lower plants,” refers to plants that thrive in moist, humid settings and lack particular vascular architecture.
  • These plants are thus primitive plants with primitive components, since they lack both xylem and phloem.
  • Non-vascular plants consist of more structural forms of algae, mosses, liverworts, and hornworts.
  • These mostly inhabit wetlands, bogs, and shaded areas with access to water. Due to the absence of circulatory tissues, they are also shorter and simpler.
  • The tissues found in non-vascular plants are the least specialised types of tissue and lack genuine roots, stems, or leaves.
  • They lack actual roots and instead have rhizoids, hair-like structures that securely anchor the plant to the earth. The rhizoids absorb water and minerals by osmosis and diffusion.
  • True leaves are likewise missing, and there is no specialised tissue to prevent water loss or to facilitate transpiration.
  • Because it is made of simpler tissue and cannot sustain the plant as it does in vascular plants, the stem is weak.
  • Haploid gametophyte production is more prevalent in non-vascular plants. These plants’ sporophytes grow from their gametophytes and are reliant on them for water and nutrients.
  • Non-vascular plants were the first plants to emerge over the course of evolution.
  • Algae and bryophytes make up the two main plant groups that make up these plants.
  • Algae are lower plants with a green tint that can synthesise oxygen but lack genuine structures.
  • The majority of mosses and liverworts, which are located in shaded regions and devour rotting and dead things, are considered bryophytes.
  • Due to their ability to flourish on arid terrain and their lack of need for nutrients or water, species that are not vascular are often used as pioneers.
  • A non-vascular plant may coexist with vascular plants by using a number of evolutionary strategies.
  • For instance, moss,Algae, liverwort, and hornwort are non-vascular plants.


Key differences – Vascular vs Non-vascular plants

Basis for Comparison Vascular plants Non-vascular plants
Definition Vascular plants are plants found on land that have lignified tissues for conducting water and minerals throughout the body of the plant. Non-vascular plants are plants mostly found in damp and moist areas and lack specialized vascular tissues.
Also known as Vascular plants are also known as tracheophytes. Non-vascular plants are also known as bryophytes or lower plants.
Diversity Vascular plants are numerous and more diverse than non-vascular plants. Non-vascular plants are fewer in number and are less diverse compare to vascular plants.
Habitat Vascular plants are land plants that can inhabit multiple environments. Non-vascular plants are mostly found in damp, shady, or swampy areas.
Vascular system Vascular plants are characterized by the presence of a vascular tissue system with lignified xylem tissue and sieved phloem tissue. The absence of a vascular tissue system characterizes non-vascular plants.
Cell arrangement Division of labor is a prominent feature of vascular plants where the arrangement of cells is more complex and mostly characteristics to individual families. The arrangement of cells in non-vascular plants is a lot simpler than that in vascular plants.
Strength The lignified tissue system is strong and rigid, which provides support and rigidity to the plant. Non-vascular plants are tender and shorter than vascular plants due to the unavailability of water-conducting tissue.
Lifecycle The prominent life cycle in vascular plants is the sporophyte, where they produce spores that are diploid. The prominent or dominating lifecycle in non-vascular plants is gametophyte where they produce gametes that are haploid.
Root The root in vascular plants is true with branches that support and adhere to the plant to the soil to obtain nutrients from it. Non-vascular plants have rhizoids with fine hair-like structures instead of true roots.
  The roots absorb the water and mineral required for the plant from the soil. They obtain their water, nutrients, and minerals from the soil via diffusion or osmosis.
Stem The stem in vascular plants is multilayered with xylem and phloem that form a conducting pathway passing through the principal axis. No true stem is found in non-vascular plants.
Leaves True leaves are present which are of defined shapes and have an important function in photosynthesis. True leaves are absent.
  Stomata are found on the leaves that are important for gas exchange. The leaves do not have specialized tissue for gas exchange or transpiration.
Cuticles Leaves and other parts have cuticles that protect the plant against desiccation. These plants do not have cuticles.
Evolution Vascular plants are more advanced forms of non-vascular plants that appeared later than non-vascular plants on earth. Non-vascular plants were among the first plants to appear on earth.
Pioneer species Vascular plants appear later in ecological succession and thus do not form a part of pioneer species. Non-vascular plants appear as pioneer species in several ecological successions.
Examples Some examples of vascular plants include maize, mustard, rose, cycad, ferns, clubmosses, grasses, etc. Some examples of non-vascular plants include moss, algae, liverwort, and hornwort.

Examples of vascular plants


  • Lower vascular plants, such as ferns, possess xylem and phloem, which are specialised conducting tissues needed for the flow of food, minerals, and water.
  • These are vascular non-flowering plants that have genuine stems, roots, and leaves as well as spore-based reproduction.
  • There are between 10,000 and 11,000 species of fern known to exist today, although other estimates suggest that there may be as many as 15,000, including those in uncharted tropical forest regions.
  • These plants come in a wide range of habitats, shapes, and reproduction strategies. Additionally, they come in a variety of sizes, from little and frail to 25-meter-tall trees.
  • Ferns like warm, humid climates, and as altitude and moisture levels rise, so do their populations.
  • Ferns play an essential role in the biological succession process because they develop in marshy places and cracks in exposed rocks before woody vegetation grows.
  • These plants are capable of long-distance dissemination because of the spores they release and the capacity they possess to both manufacture gametes and self-fertilize.


  • Gymnosperms, or vascular non-flowering plants, having established roots, stems, leaves, and vascular systems, are cycads.
  • These enormous trees have woody stems and may reach heights of three to five feet.
  • There are only around 15–20 species of cycads that are found throughout the western and eastern hemispheres.
  • These plants may be found in forests, but farmers also cultivate them for use as timber and animal feed.
  • They have a single, thick, cylindrical, woody stem that is shaped like a cylinder, with a rosette-shaped crown of large, tough, stiff, evergreen compound leaves.
  • These deciduous plants stand out among gymnosperms because female plants develop seed cones instead of a clump of leaf-life structures (megasporophyll) containing seeds.
  • Cycad species like C. circinalis and C. bedomei are planted in gardens as decorative plants.
  • Cycads are sometimes known as “sago palms” because certain species’ stems may be used to produce a starch known as “sago” in popular culture.
  • Hats, baskets, and partners are made from C. revolute leaves. The leaves may also be utilised for various ornamental reasons, such as flower arrangements.

Examples of non-vascular plants


  • Moss is a non-vascular plant that may be found in almost any climate, although it is most common in marshy, gloomy regions.
  • These creatures are among the small group of pioneer species, which are among the first living things to settle in arid and soilless areas. These are mostly found on forest floors and in carpet forests.
  • Worldwide, there are over 12,000 kinds of mosses that inhabit environments ranging from icy northern regions to dry deserts.
  • They come in a variety of sizes, some of which are tiny and others of which are over a foot tall.
  • Due to a lack of vascular tissue, they are unable to transfer water and minerals to the top of the plant, which prevents them from growing very tall.
  • They lack roots and instead contain rhizoids, which are inefficient at absorbing water and nutrients from the soil.
  • Given that the stem or leaf-like structures are a component of the gametophyte, the gametophytic phase is more prominent.
  • The sporophytic phase, into which the gametophyte grows, produces spores that aid in reproduction.


  • Liverworts are primitive, non-vascular plants that eventually form small, leaf-like features.
  • They are often seen close to the surface in damp, shaded, or marshy regions. Despite being widespread, they are usually found in tropical regions.
  • The gametophytic structure of the plant, or the thallus, creates specialised organs to accommodate the sporophytic phase.
  • Liverworts and hornworts are related, but liverworts may be distinguished from hornworts by the way their sporophyte and thallus are built.
  • These are primitive plants that have rhizoids in place of roots for attachment and water and nutrient absorption from the soil.
  • Despite being of little importance to humans, they provide food for animals, hasten the decay of logs, and aid in the integration of rocks throughout ecological succession.
  • Liverworts are among the precursor species, or the first living organisms, to appear during primary succession.

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