Ferns, mosses, club mosses, liverworts, and hornworts are among the nonflowering plants that reproduce without seeds – these nonflowering plants disperse their seeds via spores and are known as nonflowering.
There can be numerous reasons a plant doesn’t bloom or produce fruits, such as poor pollination. Cold periods may also inhibit blooming.
The Ghost Orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii) is an epiphytic orchid with no leaves that form a dense mass of photosynthetic roots engulfing its host tree’s trunk, creating a stunning display. The Ghost Orchid’s striking appearance and distinctive habitat make it a beloved symbol of the South Florida landscape. Found chiefly in deep swamps of cypress, pond apple, and palm trees, its plants require high humidity, mild temperatures, and dappled shade conditions to flourish successfully. In place of leaves for photosynthesis, it forms relationships with certain fungi, which provide chlorophyll-producing roots to provide enough chlorophyll for survival – unlike its leaves counterpart.
Due to this mutualistic relationship between plants and fungi, it is vital not to disturb their root systems or these plants in any way.
Ghost Orchid flowers are pollinated during their short blooming periods by giant Sphinx Moths, whose long proboscis easily accesses pollen within their flowers.
Unfortunately, due to their rare beauty and scarcity, Ghost Orchids have become targets for poachers who harvest them illegally and sell them on black markets for profit. Poaching has resulted in the reduction of Ghost Orchid populations within their natural environments.
Scientists are working hard to increase the population of Ghost Orchids in nature by cultivating them. Researchers have discovered that when these orchids are grown in a medium containing specific strains of mycorrhizal fungi, they produce significantly more flowers and seed pods – an invaluable discovery since their spores can then be used to propagate rare plants and reintroduce them back into nature.
Ferns are ancient plants that emerged before flowering plants. Ferns reproduce by producing spores – dusty substances produced within capsules called Soros on the underside of leaves – that travel from these Soros into the air when their time has come, eventually breaking open to release their contents into the atmosphere and form into diploid sporophytes (composed of roots, stems and leaves that conduct photosynthesis) which then fertilize an egg produced from pollen grains that attach themselves via meiosis (a process which reduces their number by half).
Spores can travel great distances, and disjunct populations of ferns have been found scattered across large geographic regions. These ferns may represent remnants from earlier when they were more widely dispersed.
Ferns are now popularly grown worldwide in climates ranging from cold and temperate zones through tropical regions, indoors or out. Indoor fern cultivation is also possible, making ferns an excellent choice for shaded garden areas that serve as green backdrops or center-stage focal points. Ferns have gained tremendous popularity among horticulturists for their versatility, low maintenance needs, and gorgeous forms.
Ferns are one of the oldest groups of plants and an intriguing part of our evolutionary history. Adapted to survive in excellent, damp conditions for millions of years, ferns have played a critical role in many ecosystems and gardens worldwide, making great houseplants or being grown using hydroponic systems as part of your garden design.
Mosses, or bryophyta, are non-vascular flowerless plants from the division Bryophyta that typically form dense clumps or mats in damp and shady areas. Mosses play an essential role in their environment by absorbing rainfall, keeping the soil moist, warming the atmosphere, supporting other plant life, and being the first colonizers on disturbed sites, such as when forests burn down, or their habitat is flooded.
Antheridia and archegonia, the reproductive structures of mosses, produce haploid spores released into the air when conditions are suitable. When these haploid spores encounter another moss, they fertilize it – typically through wind or water transport; once they land on another moss, they fertilize again! Mosses with upright stems produce upright stems, while those with trailing growth patterns have branches that cling onto a substrate or drape down, giving their distinctive “veil” appearance.
Mosses don’t possess water-bearing xylem tracheids and vessels like other vascular plants, yet they keep special cells capable of conducting nutrients through their surfaces.
Mosses share similar life cycles as other plants, switching between two generations: dominant sporophyte generation and haploid gametophyte generation. When conditions are ideal, gametophyte spores dispersed from gametophores will spread into protonema cells to form protonema threadlike filamentous cells before maturing into dominant sporophyte generations of moss plants known as the sporophyte generations.
The sporophyte provides the moss with water and nutrients and when in good health, produces eggs and sperm to reproduce. Once fertilized by water, the new plant emerges into being. This process repeats itself continuously to form an endless chain of moss plants.
Like mosses and hornworts, liverworts are simple plants without flowers or seeds. As part of the bryophyte family, liverworts can be divided into two main groups – leafy liverworts and those liverworts.
Both groups of corals are widespread worldwide and found in various habitats from the Arctic to the tropics, typically inhabiting moist soil or moist rotting logs, shaded woodland areas, stream banks, and wet, open rock outcroppings.
Liverworts are small nonphotosynthetic plants characterized by an airy spore-producing capsule during their growing season. When split, its contents release their spores onto surfaces where they adhere before germinating into gametophytes that form gametophytes.
Jungermanniales liverworts use an organ known as a gametangium to produce their spores; it forms in antheridiophores that surround archegonia. Sperm released from an anthers enters this archegonia where fertilization occurs.
There is some variation among those and leafy liverworts in how they produce gametophytes; for instance, Riccardia contains internal slime cells that act as gametophytes, while Marchantia prompts slime papillae that appear as tiny stalked outgrowths from its sporophyte. All three genera produce sticky substances called mucilage to assist their gametophytes in absorbing and retaining water.
Liverworts in your garden become problematic during cool and damp conditions, such as early autumn or late spring. One effective solution for controlling them is mulching problem areas with material that drains well and will dry quickly at the surface – like coarsely crushed hazelnut shells or fabric-type weed barriers.
Horsetails (Equisetum) are a widespread weed commonly referred to as waterweed, fleagrass, or scouring rush. Perennial herbaceous perennials are found worldwide, with fifteen species that possess prominently jointed hollow stems composed of silicate. Though devoid of flowers, they produce cone-like clusters of spore capsules at their ends.
Horsetail plants are distinguished by their light green, sterile stems. These appear early each spring and form whorls of fine branches that reach up to 2 feet tall by maturity.
This perennial is considered invasive in some parts of the world. A close relative to ferns, it reproduces via spores held within cone-like structures on each stem at its ends and dispersed by wind currents, making this plant easy to produce quickly and become an unwanted weed.
Humans commonly utilize horsetails as a diuretic, helping reduce fluid retention and treating kidney and urinary tract conditions. Studies have demonstrated that taking horsetail extract increases urine output – which is especially helpful when dealing with uric acid kidney stones. Furthermore, this plant also boasts anti-inflammatory properties and may speed wound healing.
Taking horsetail extract may help lower blood sugar levels, so those with diabetes must exercise caution when taking this supplement. Long-term consumption could also result in low potassium levels, proving hazardous.
This plant provides essential vitamins A and C as well as chromium. Therefore, it is wise to avoid pairing this herb with supplements that could lower blood sugar levels or interfere with its absorption, such as brewer’s yeast, cascara sagrada, or prickly pear cactus.