What is Non-flowering Plants? | Types, Definition, Structure, Function & Facts

What is Non-flowering Plants?

Many plants have flowers that help them produce seeds for reproduction. You can read more about these plants on our flowering plants page. However, some plants do not use flowers to reproduce. These plants are called non-flowering plants.

There are two main groups of non-flowering plants. Plants use spores to reproduce and plants use seeds to reproduce. Plants without flowers that use seeds are called gymnosperms

Get Free Counseling


Gymnosperm means “coniferous”. They are so called because their seeds are exposed to the air without covering like the seeds of flowering plants. One of the main groups of gymnosperms are conifers.


The word “conifers” means “bearing cones”. Conifers are plants that use cones to store their seeds. Conifers are woody plants and most of them are trees like pine, fir, cypress, juniper, cedar and redwood.


Conifers reproduce using their cones. Some cones are male and some are female. Male cones release pollen. This pollen is carried by the wind. If a pollen grain falls on the female cone, the female cone will produce a seed. The hard scales of the cones protect the new seeds as they grow.


The seeds of conifers are winged seeds. When released from the cone, they will float in the wind until they reach the ground, where they will germinate and grow.


Some non-flowering plants do not produce seeds. Instead, they use spores to reproduce. Spore-producing plants include plants such as mosses and ferns.

Spores are small organisms that usually contain only one cell. Plants that produce spores produce large numbers of them. Because they are so small and light, they can be carried by the wind to new places where they can grow.


Mosses are soft, spongy plants, usually only a few inches tall. They tend to cluster together in clusters. Mosses do not have flowers or seeds, but use spores to reproduce. They also do not have the typical roots of most plants, but anchor themselves to rocks and soil by short rhizomes called rhizoids.


Another type of spore-forming plant is the fern. Ferns produce a layer of spores on the underside of leaves. They look like brown spots. At some point, the crust dries up and the spores are released into the air.

Interesting Facts about Non-Flowering Plants

The fern leaves are called frond.

Scientists estimate that some species of ferns have been around for more than 350 million years.

Conifers usually have needle-shaped leaves. The needle is durable, does not dry out and does not fall off easily in strong winds. This helps evergreens survive in cold, windy, and dry climates.

There are over 12,000 different species of moss.

Moss tends to grow in moist places with lots of shade.