What are seedless plants? Simply put, those plants that do not produce seeds are known as seedless plants. Some of these plants include ferns, mosses, liverworts and horsetails. Seedless plants have a special anatomy. They consist of what is called a sporophyte and sporangia. The sporophyte is basically the plant-like structure that we see while the sporangia is the mature seedless plant which is used to disperse spores for reproduction. Using these spores, the seedless plants propagate and spread in nature. Seedless plants are in many ways advantageous and tough over their seed-producing counterparts. Some of their salient features have been elaborated on below.
High Degree of Adaptability
Seedless plants are very tough survivors. Simply put, they are capable of propagating anywhere and without any support from external factors. The only pre-requisite for their survival is a wet climate. Scientists therefore also consider these plants as indicators of the existence of an abundance of water in a given region. They are known to grow on rocks, and even tree-barks for instance. They do not possess true roots, stems, or leaves. Some seedless plants possess vascular systems, while others do not. In fact, there is evidence of horsetails, a variety of seedless plants, having existed even in the pre-historic era.
Unlike regular seed-bearing and flowering plants, seedless plants do not go through the regular reproduction cycle of flowering and fertilization. They reproduce through spores. In some seedless plants, these spores produce homospores and in some, the spores produce heterospores. The gametophytes produced by homospores either obtain nourishment through neighboring fungi or produce nutrients through photosynthesis. Then, from the resultant zygote, a seedless plant develops. The advantage of reproduction in seedless plants is that they are not dependant on external factors such as pollination by insects.
Champions of Nature
Seedless plants are true champions of nature. Usually seed-producing plants need a set of conditions such as good sunlight, the right degree of temperature, a good water resource and a nutrient-packed soil base in order to grow and thrive. This is not the case with seedless plants. They support life by being the first vegetation to spring up on harsh terrain where soil is scarce. Even when they perish, seedless plants give back to nature. Certain seedless plants like moss and liverworts actually leave behind a layer of fertile soil for other plants when they perish. Certain types of seedless plants are used by birds for the purpose of nesting. Certain other plants are used as fuel by people. The advantage here is that they form bio-degradable fuel.
Defenders Against Soil Erosion
These plants grow thick and fast. Their roots, known as rhizoids, do not carry out the normal nutrition-channeling functions of seed-producing plants. Instead, they are used to firmly latch onto the base soil. This works against soil erosion.
Seedless plants may not be the most attractive in the plant kingdom but they are the true champions of the environment owing to factors such as prevention of soil erosion and use of minimum natural resources for survival. On the scientific and research front, seedless plants are considered a primary tool, to find the source of soil moisture and availability of water in the surroundings. Considering these advantages, other seed-producing plants are now even being bio-engineered so as to produce fruits without seeds.