Ecological Uses of Seedless Vascular Plants

The four divisions of vascular plants reproduce by spores rather than by seeds. Although some of these plants do not have roots or leaves, all of them have xylem and phloem, which are vascular structures that transport water and nutrients. Seedless vascular plants include mosses and ferns.


Plants in the Pterophyta division are the most familiar seedless vascular plants. They are commonly called ferns and have divided, feathery leaves called fronds. Ferns grow well in damp shady areas, such as woodlands or along stream banks, and the rhizomes and roots of ferns help prevent soil erosion. Coal was formed from the decayed remains of ferns eons ago.


Plants in the Lycophyta division have single-veined leaves and grow in a wide variety of habitats. Lycopodiums and Selagineums are groundcover type plants and resemble ferns. Other plants in the Lycophyta division are club mosses, spike mosses and quillworts. These plants also help prevent erosion and are a component of coal.


Equisetum is the only genus in the Sphenophyta division. It is commonly called scouring rush, because the stems contain silica, or horsetail. It grows in marshy or waterlogged soil and can spread aggressively. Equisetums are also a component of soil.


Plants in the Psilophyta division of seedless vascular plants do not have true leaves or roots and are the simplest vascular plants. Whisk Ferns (Psilotum spp.) are members of this division and native to Florida and other tropical areas.

Keywords: seedless vascular plants, ferns, club mosses, equisetums, spike mosses, whisk ferns

About this Author

Melody Lee worked as a newspaper reporter, copywriter and editor for 5 years. In addition, she has edited magazine articles and books. Lee holds a degree in landscape design and is a Florida master gardener. She has more than 25 years of gardening experience, which includes working at nurseries and greenhouses.