Seed plants, classified as spermatophytes, produce seeds in order to reproduce. The University of California Museum of Paleontology considers seed plants the most familiar type of plants to most people. Most seed plants are large with noticeable foliage or flora. Depending on the type of plant and growing location, seed plants produce seeds the grow forests, animal habitats and food sources.
The earliest seed plants evolved approximately 370-million years ago during the late Devonian period, according to the Natural History Museum. The first seed plants were actually seed ferns, which are now extinct. Modern flowering seed plants first appear in the fossil record 130-million years ago in the Cretaceous period.
Two groups of seed plants exist today. Gymnosperms produce by naked seeds, which are born in cones. The cones protect the seeds until they become mature and aid in the distribution of the seeds. Gymnosperms are broke down into four phyla: cycads, ginko, gnetophytes and conifers. According to Clinton Community College, conifers make up the largest group of gymnosperms. Conifers include pine, cedar, fir, spruce and redwood trees.
The second group, angiosperms, encompasses flowering plants, which make up 90 percent of all plants. Scientists consider the ability to flower the key to the success of angiosperms. Through the attraction of animal pollinators, the angiosperms reproduce effectively.
While plant life is found throughout the entire earth, angiosperms are the most adaptable. Living in all habitats of the Earth, angiosperms even successfully reproduce in the oceans. An estimated 250,000 species of angiosperms reproduce through flowering.
With only 750 species, gymnosperms require more particular habitats, such as dry or cold regions. However, despite limited habitat, the success of gymnosperms is especially evident when considering the bristlecone pines located in Nevada, estimated to be 4,500 years old, according to Clinton Community College.
Reproduction for angiosperms is not limited to the seeds produced. Asexual reproduction allows new plants to grow from horizontal stems, stolons and rhizomes. Various types of flowering trees and shrubs send up suckers from the root system that produces new plants.
Seed plants surround us and provide essential products necessary for human life. Providing food, shelter, medicine and wood, seed plants also impact the environment by providing animal habitats and soil erosion control.