Non-Flowering Plants

Non-flowering plants do not have flowers.

Non-flowering plants mostly fall into one of the following groups:

  • Liverworts
  • Mosses
  • Hornworts
  • Ferns
  • Club mosses
  • Horsetails
  • Ginkgo
  • Cycads
  • Conifers
  • Whisk ferns

There are two main groups of non-flowering plants and these are plants that use seeds to grow and plants that use spores to grow.


Ferns are plants that grow from spores and they are evergreen plants. These plants grow from spores where other plants grow from seeds.

Ferns live in damp areas and most of them do not have real roots or leaves and they are non-vascular plants.


A spore is a cell that is very small, and it is created by the plant. These spores, when released, travel through the air and water and go away from the plant.

When these spores land in certain places, they can form new cells and eventually a new plant will grow.

Spores usually only have a single cell and they grow in huge numbers because the spores are super light and can travel far where they continue to reproduce.


Mosses are another plant that grows from spores. These are plants that are soft and most of the time spongy.

These plants do not grow tall because they are non-vascular, and they grow together.

Moss uses spores to reproduce and they do not have roots, but they stick to rocks and soil by using what is called rhizoid or short growth.


Gymnosperms are the non-flowering plants that use seeds to reproduce.

The word gymnosperm means “naked seeds” because the seeds are not covered like seeds in a flower are.

These seeds fly wildly in the air and help other non-flowering plants to form.


One group of gymnosperms are the conifers. Conifers are plants that use seeds that are found inside the cones.

The word conifer therefore, means “bearing cones,” and most of these are trees such as cypress trees, fir seeds, pine trees and more.

When the conifer reproduces, it uses its cones to reproduce. Some of the cones are female, while others are male, and the male cones are the ones that release the pollen.

The wind, insects or animals then carry the pollen and if the pollen lands on a female cone then the cone will make seeds.

The cone is very protective of the seeds, and it protects them by growing hard scales.

The seeds that are inside of the cone are called “winged” seeds.

This means that when the seeds are released, they will fly through the air until they reach the ground and they will germinate. Germinate means beginning to grow.

Facts about Non-Flowering Plants

  • Ferns have leaves and the leaves are called fronds.
  • Ferns are considered some of the oldest plants and are estimated to have been around for millions of years.
  • Conifers oftentimes have needle-shaped leaves and these leaves fall off and germinate when high winds come.
  • The needle-shaped leaves of conifers do not dry out and can survive almost any climate.
  • Mosses grow when there is little light and in damp areas.
  • There are thousands of species of mosses.

What Did You Learn?

  • What is the name for non-flowering plants that use seeds to help them reproduce? Gymnosperms are the name for non-flowering plants that use seeds to help them reproduce.
  • What is interesting about the seeds of the gymnosperms? The seeds of the gymnosperms have no protection or covering over them like flowering plants do.
  • Conifers have a special place that their seeds are found. Where is this place? Conifers have seeds inside of their cones.
  • How is pollen of a non-flowering plant normally spread? Most non-flowering plants spread their seeds through the wind.
  • Which cones, the male or the female cones, produce pollen? The male cones are the ones that release the pollen.