A vascular plant has one of the most simple, yet sophisticated, designs created by Mother Nature. It allows transportation of water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves of plants through a vascular system. Plants with this conducting system in their internal structure have the benefit of being able to adapt and grow in almost any location.
Vascular plants are composed of two significant structures, the xylem and the phloem. The former—which runs from the roots to leaves and whose walls are made of cellulose—is responsible for transporting water and raw minerals from the soil to all parts of the plant. The xylem also strengthens the plant’s structure by incorporating fibers into the cell walls.
On the other hand, the phloem is responsible for transporting the nutrients and sugars to all parts of the plant after photosynthesis. Unlike the xylem—which is made up of dead cells—the phloem is composed of living cells.
Vascular plants are divided into two types, the lower and the higher vascular plants. According to the Western Washington University, the lower vascular plants—also known as cryptogams—are “plant-like organisms that reproduce by spores.” They comprise 84 percent of the world’s “botanical diversity.” Common vascular plants belonging to this group are ferns, whisk ferns, club and spike mosses, as well as horsetails.
Meanwhile, the higher vascular plants, also known as phanerogams, are vascular plants that reproduce by seeds. The flowering plants, or angiosperms, and the gymnosperms belong in this category. The former reproduces through enclosed seeds, while the latter reproduces through exposed seeds.
According to Maricopa College, vascular plants date back to 350 million years ago with fossil records showing that forests developed soon afterwards, around 300 million years ago. Soon after this development, seed plants followed and then flowering plants appeared around 140 million years ago, adding to the diversity that people view today.