Umbrellas !  Thank you Wikipedia.

When a bryophyte spore settles somewhere, it sprouts and grows into a gametophyte (the egg and sperm producing plant) – this is the stage we mostly see as green. They may be green and leafy, but usually small. Commonly called liverworts, their reproductive organs (eggs and sperm) are found inside capsules which look like little umbrellas sticking up from the plant. Antheridia make sperm and archegonia make eggs. When it’s raining, the eggs stay under their umbrella but the sperm take a free ride on the rainwater and seek out eggs.

Thank you University of Hamburg

The fertilized eggs develops and grows into a sporophyte (the spore producing plant) but stays connected.  It looks like a capsule on top of the gametophyte on a long slender stalk. It divides and makes spores of the same size and type (homosporus).

LYCOPODS (club mosses and quillworts)


Club moss. Thank you

Just like the Bryophytes, If a spore finds a suitable habitat, it can grow into a gametophyte. The gametophyte often grows in close association with fungi. Lycopods produce homogeneous (all the same) spores which germinate and grow into adults with sexual organs in their rhizomes that reproduce sexually with gametes. The sperm swims to the egg and the fertilized egg grows to produce spores.

We at Plant Specialists know our lycopodiums very well !

We use Princess pine (lycopodium) to make garlands for holidays.

Thank you NYBG.


Heterosporous (sexually distinct spores) plants, such as these, produce spores of two sizes: a larger megaspore in effect functioning as a “female” and the smaller microspore as a “male”.  After fertilization, the sporophyte grows out of the top of the gametophyte, so it looks like a headdress of some kind.

We LOVE Selaginella !

it’s a spike moss used in terrariums and also as an indoor foliage plant.

Thank you Britannica.

In this image of stags horn moss, the green leafy part is the gametophyte and the tall spindle on top is the sporophyte.

Thank you wiktionary.


Ferns also do not produce floral parts. Here the spores are produced and released from the underside of leaves or from special spore producing stems. The spores land on moist soil and germinate into a secondary type of plant called a gametophyte. It is usually very small (1”) and flat. This plant in turn produce both eggs and sperm which when fertilized form a new plant. This new plant grows off the gametophyte until it becomes an adult spore producer.

Spores in clusters on back of fern leaf. Thank you Plants of the N.E.  USA

Adult gametophyte with new baby sporophyte attached.

Thank you U of Miami.


The most primitive reproductive parts of plants where formed in species which evolved million of years ago in the Devonian period. These formed simple precursors to modern floral parts. Cormo rhynia is such an example. It retains the spores in an uncovered pod or cone.

Thank you


Between the arrival of modern flowering plants, but after bryophytes and ferns are several groups of plant that are also considered primitive. The cone bearing plants (conifers and cycads).  Cycads are also considered primitive, but in a class apart from other cone bearing plants. The cone partially encloses the seed.

Typical cone producing plant – Genus Pinus.

Thank you WDRFREE.

Primitive (and toxic !!!) Cycads are mainly used outdoors as a foliage plant in a warm  weather climate. They are sometimes used as indoor plants as well.

Thank you

The seeds form embraced in the top of the plant.

Thank you mediastorehouse.


True flowering plants only begin with the Ceratophyllales (still much older than Methuselah) then followed by the Magnoliales. They tend to be trees and Dicotyledons. Their seeds are totally covered and protected.

Thank you

Primitive flowers that are currently alive on the planet tend to be large, simple, showy flowers that are wind pollinated and with few or none secondary floral parts. An example of this is Magnolia.

Thank you again !

Unlike today, Magnolias evolved in a world with few insects! As such, their pollination       choice was wind and the flower itself never became more specialized –  there was no           need for color, fragrance or specialized floral parts to attract insects for pollination.

Ask one of our Designers to plant some primitive Magnolias for you ! 

Star magnolia is my favorite!

If you want some in your garden – Call Plant Specialists TODAY !

We have experts that know which will grow in your garden

– and we can care for them as well !




Article written by our Staff Horticulturist, Peter B Morris, BSc, MSc, MBA