Flowering plants are plants that bear flowers and fruits, and form the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek language words angeion ('container, vessel') and sperma ('seed'), and refers to those plants that produce their seeds enclosed within a fruit. They are by far the most diverse group of Embryophyte with 64 orders, 416 families, approximately 13,000 known Genus and 300,000 known species. Angiosperms were formerly called Magnoliophyta ().
The ancestors of flowering plants diverged from the common ancestor of all living gymnosperms during the Carboniferous, over 300 million years ago, with the earliest record of angiosperm pollen appearing around 134 million years ago. The first remains of flowering plants are known from 125 million years ago. They diversified extensively during the Early Cretaceous, became widespread by 120 million years ago, and replaced conifers as the dominant trees from 60 to 100 million years ago.
|+ Distinctive features of angiosperms ! Feature !! Description|
|, the reproductive organs of flowering plants, are the most remarkable feature distinguishing them from the other seed plants. Flowers provided angiosperms with the means to have a more species-specific breeding system, and hence a way to evolve more readily into different species without the risk of crossing back with related species. Faster speciation enabled the Angiosperms to adapt to a wider range of . This has allowed flowering plants to largely dominate terrestrial ecosystems, comprising about 90 percent of all plant species.|
|Stamens are much lighter than the corresponding organs of gymnosperms and have contributed to the diversification of angiosperms through time with to specialised pollination syndromes, such as particular pollinators. Stamens have also become modified through time to prevent self-fertilization, which has permitted further diversification, allowing angiosperms eventually to fill more niches.|
|The male gametophyte in angiosperms is significantly reduced in size compared to those of gymnosperm seed plants.|
(2022). 9780716710073, W. H. Freeman. . ISBN 9780716710073The smaller size of the pollen reduces the amount of time between pollination (the pollen grain reaching the female plant) and fertilization. In gymnosperms, fertilization can occur up to a year after pollination, whereas in angiosperms, fertilization begins very soon after pollination. The shorter amount of time between pollination and fertilization allows angiosperms to produce seeds earlier after pollination than gymnosperms, providing angiosperms a distinct evolutionary advantage.
|The closed carpel of angiosperms also allows adaptations to specialised pollination syndromes and controls. This helps to prevent self-fertilization, thereby maintaining increased diversity. Once the ovary is fertilised, the carpel and some surrounding tissues develop into a fruit. This fruit often serves as an attractant to seed-dispersing animals. The resulting cooperative relationship presents another advantage to angiosperms in the process of dispersal.|
|The reduced female gametophyte, like the reduced male gametophyte, may be an adaptation allowing for more rapid seed set, eventually leading to such flowering plant adaptations as annual herbaceous life-cycles, allowing the flowering plants to fill even more niches.|
|In general, endosperm formation begins after fertilization and before the first division of the zygote. Endosperm is a highly nutritive tissue that can provide food for the developing embryo, the , and sometimes the seedling when it first appears.|
In the , the of the stem are arranged such that the xylem and phloem form concentric rings. The bundles in the very young stem are arranged in an open ring, separating a central pith from an outer cortex. In each bundle, separating the xylem and phloem, is a layer of meristem or active formative tissue known as cambium. By the formation of a layer of cambium between the bundles (interfascicular cambium), a complete ring is formed, and a regular periodical increase in thickness results from the development of xylem on the inside and phloem on the outside. The soft phloem becomes crushed, but the hard wood persists and forms the bulk of the stem and branches of the woody perennial. Owing to differences in the character of the elements produced at the beginning and end of the season, the wood is marked out in transverse section into concentric rings, one for each season of growth, called annual rings.
Among the , the bundles are more numerous in the young stem and are scattered through the ground tissue. They contain no cambium and once formed the stem increases in diameter only in exceptional cases.
There are two kinds of reproductive cells produced by flowers. , which will divide to become pollen, are the "male" cells and are borne in the (or microsporophylls). The "female" cells called , which will divide to become the egg cell (megagametogenesis), are contained in the ovule and enclosed in the carpel (or megasporophyll).
The flower may consist only of these parts, as in willow, where each flower comprises only a few or two carpels. Usually, other structures are present and serve to protect the and to form an envelope attractive to pollinators. The individual members of these surrounding structures are known as and (or in flowers such as Magnolia where sepals and petals are not distinguishable from each other). The outer series (calyx of sepals) is usually green and leaf-like, and functions to protect the rest of the flower, especially the bud. The inner series (corolla of petals) is, in general, white or brightly colored, and is more delicate in structure. It functions to attract insect or bird pollinators. Attraction is effected by color, Floral scent, and nectar, which may be secreted in some part of the flower. The characteristics that attract pollinators account for the popularity of flowers and flowering plants among humans.
While the majority of flowers are perfect or hermaphrodite (having both pollen and ovule producing parts in the same flower structure), flowering plants have developed numerous morphological and physiological mechanisms to reduce or prevent self-fertilization. Heteromorphic flowers have short carpels and long stamens, or vice versa, so animal cannot easily transfer pollen to the pistil (receptive part of the carpel). Homomorphic flowers may employ a biochemical (physiological) mechanism called self-incompatibility to discriminate between self and non-self pollen grains. Alternatively, in dioecious species, the male and female parts are morphologically separated, developing on different individual flowers.
In 1851, Hofmeister discovered the changes occurring in the embryo-sac of flowering plants, and determined the correct relationships of these to the vascular plant. This fixed the position of Gymnosperms as a class distinct from Dicotyledons, and the term Angiosperm then gradually came to be accepted as the suitable designation for the whole of the flowering plants other than Gymnosperms, including the classes of Dicotyledons and Monocotyledons. This is the sense in which the term is used today.
In most taxonomies, the flowering plants are treated as a coherent group. The most popular descriptive name has been Angiospermae, with Anthophyta (lit. 'flower-plants') a second choice (both unranked). The Wettstein system and Engler system treated them as a subdivision (Angiospermae). The Reveal system also treated them as a subdivision (Magnoliophytina),Frohne & Jensen ex Reveal (29 April 1996). "Magnoliophytina". Phytologia. 79 (2): 70. but later split it to Magnoliopsida, Liliopsida, and Rosopsida. The Takhtajan system and Cronquist system treat them as a division (Magnoliophyta). The Dahlgren system and Thorne system (1992) treat them as a class (Magnoliopsida). The APG system of 1998, and the later 2003 and 2009 revisions, treat the flowering plants as an unranked clade without a formal Latin name (angiosperms). A formal classification was published alongside the 2009 revision in which the flowering plants rank as a subclass (Magnoliidae).
The internal classification of this group has undergone considerable revision. The Cronquist system, proposed by Arthur Cronquist in 1968 and published in its full form in 1981, is still widely used but is no longer believed to accurately reflect phylogeny. A consensus about how the flowering plants should be arranged has recently begun to emerge through the work of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG), which published an influential reclassification of the angiosperms in 1998. Updates incorporating more recent research were published as the APG II system in 2003, the APG III system in 2009, and the APG IV system in 2016.
Traditionally, the flowering plants are divided into two groups,Magnoliaceae" and Liliopsida (from "Liliaceae"). Other descriptive names allowed by Article 16 of the ICBN include Dicotyledones or Dicotyledoneae, and Monocotyledones or Monocotyledoneae, which have a long history of use. In plain English, their members may be called "dicotyledons" ("dicots") and "monocotyledons" ("monocots"). The Latin behind these names refers the observation that the dicots most often have two , or embryonic leaves, within each seed. The monocots usually have only one, but the rule is not absolute either way. From a broad diagnostic point of view, the number of cotyledons is neither a particularly handy, nor a reliable character.
Recent studies, as by the APG, show that the monocots form a monophyletic group (a clade) but that the dicots are paraphyletic. Nevertheless, the majority of dicot species fall into a clade, the eudicots or tricolpates, and most of the remaining fall into another major clade, the magnoliids, containing about 9,000 species. The rest include a paraphyletic grouping of early branching taxa known collectively as the basal angiosperms, plus the families Ceratophyllaceae and Chloranthaceae.
The exact relationships among these eight groups is not yet clear, although there is agreement that the first three groups to diverge from the ancestral angiosperm were Amborellales, Nymphaeales, and Austrobaileyales (basal angiosperms) Of the remaining five groups (core angiosperms), the relationships among the three broadest groups remains unclear (magnoliids, monocots, and eudicots). Zeng and colleagues (Fig. 1) describe four competing schemes.The eudicots and monocots are the largest and most diversified, with ~ 75% and 20% of angiosperm species, respectively. Some analyses make the magnoliids the first to diverge, others the monocots. Ceratophyllum seems to group with the eudicots rather than with the monocots. The APG IV retained the overall higher order relationship described in APG III.
The apparently sudden appearance in the fossil record of nearly modern flowers, and in great diversity, initially posed such a problem for the theory of gradual evolution that Charles Darwin called it an "abominable mystery". However, the fossil record has considerably grown since the time of Darwin, and recently discovered angiosperm fossils such as Archaefructus, along with further discoveries of fossil gymnosperms, suggest how angiosperm characteristics may have been acquired in a series of steps. Several groups of extinct gymnosperms, in particular , have been proposed as the ancestors of flowering plants, but there is no continuous fossil evidence showing how flowers evolved, and botanists still regard it as a mystery. Some older fossils, such as the upper Triassic Sanmiguelia lewisi, have been suggested.
The first seed bearing plants, like the ginkgo, and (such as and ), did not produce flowers. The pollen grains (male gametophytes) of Ginkgo and cycads produce a pair of flagellated, mobile sperm cells that "swim" down the developing pollen tube to the female and her eggs.
Oleanane, a secondary metabolite produced by many flowering plants, has been found in Permian deposits of that age together with fossils of . Gigantopterids are a group of extinct seed plants that share many morphological traits with flowering plants, although they are not known to have been flowering plants themselves.
Molecular evidence indicates that the ancestors of angiosperms diverged from the gymnosperms during the late Devonian, about 365 million years ago, despite only appearing in the fossil record during the Mesozoic, almost two hundred million years later.
The fossil plant species Nanjinganthus from Early Jurassic China seems to share many exclusively angiosperm features, such as a thickened receptacle with , and thus might represent a Crown group or a stem-group angiosperm. However, these have been disputed by other researchers, who contend that the structures are misinterpreted decomposed conifer cones.
The evolution of seed plants and later angiosperms appears to be the result of two distinct rounds of Paleopolyploidy events. These occurred at and . Another possible whole genome duplication event at perhaps created the ancestral line that led to all modern flowering plants. That event was studied by sequencing the genome of an ancient flowering plant, Amborella trichopoda, and directly addresses Darwin's "abominable mystery".
The oldest known fossils definitively attributable to angiosperms are reticulated monosulcate pollen from the late Valanginian (Early or Lower Cretaceous - 140 to 133 million years ago) of Italy and Israel, likely representative of the basal angiosperm grade.
The earliest known macrofossil confidently identified as an angiosperm, Archaefructus liaoningensis, is dated to about 125 million years BP (the Cretaceous period), whereas pollen considered to be of angiosperm origin takes the fossil record back to about 130 million years BP, with Montsechia representing the earliest flower at that time.
In 2013 flowers encased in amber were found and dated 100 million years before present. The amber had frozen the act of sexual reproduction in the process of taking place. Microscopic images showed tubes growing out of pollen and penetrating the flower's stigma. The pollen was sticky, suggesting it was carried by insects.
Recent DNA analysis based on molecular systematics showed that Amborella, found on the Pacific island of New Caledonia, belongs to a sister group of the other flowering plants, and morphological studies suggest that it has features that may have been characteristic of the earliest flowering plants. The orders Amborellales, Nymphaeales, and Austrobaileyales diverged as separate lineages from the remaining angiosperm clade at a very early stage in flowering plant evolution.
The great angiosperm radiation, when a great diversity of angiosperms appears in the fossil record, occurred in the mid-Cretaceous (approximately 100 million years ago). However, a study in 2007 estimated that the division of the five most recent of the eight main groups occurred around 140 million years ago. (the genus Ceratophyllum, the family Chloranthaceae, the eudicots, the magnoliids, and the Monocotyledon) .
It is generally assumed that the function of flowers, from the start, was to involve mobile animals in their reproduction processes. That is, pollen can be scattered even if the flower is not brightly colored or oddly shaped in a way that attracts animals; however, by expending the energy required to create such traits, angiosperms can enlist the aid of animals and, thus, reproduce more efficiently.
Island genetics provides one proposed explanation for the sudden, fully developed appearance of flowering plants. Island genetics is believed to be a common source of speciation in general, especially when it comes to radical adaptations that seem to have required inferior transitional forms. Flowering plants may have evolved in an isolated setting like an island or island chain, where the plants bearing them were able to develop a highly specialised relationship with some specific animal (a wasp, for example). Such a relationship, with a hypothetical wasp carrying pollen from one plant to another much the way do today, could result in the development of a high degree of specialisation in both the plant(s) and their partners. Note that the wasp example is not incidental; bees, which, it is postulated, evolved specifically due to mutualistic plant relationships, are descended from wasps.
Animals are also involved in the distribution of seeds. Fruit, which is formed by the enlargement of flower parts, is frequently a seed-dispersal tool that attracts animals to eat or otherwise disturb it, incidentally scattering the seeds it contains (see frugivory). Although many such mutualistic relationships remain too fragile to survive competition and to spread widely, flowering proved to be an unusually effective means of reproduction, spreading (whatever its origin) to become the dominant form of land plant life.
Flower ontogeny uses a combination of normally responsible for forming new shoots. The most primitive flowers probably had a variable number of flower parts, often separate from (but in contact with) each other. The flowers tended to grow in a spiral pattern, to be bisexual (in plants, this means both male and female parts on the same flower), and to be dominated by the ovary (female part). As flowers evolved, some variations developed parts fused together, with a much more specific number and design, and with either specific sexes per flower or plant or at least "ovary-inferior". Flower evolution continues to the present day; modern flowers have been so profoundly influenced by humans that some of them cannot be pollinated in nature. Many modern domesticated flower species were formerly simple weeds, which sprouted only when the ground was disturbed. Some of them tended to grow with human crops, perhaps already having symbiotic companion plant relationships with them, and the prettiest did not get plucked because of their beauty, developing a dependence upon and special adaptation to human affection.
A few Paleontology have also proposed that flowering plants, or angiosperms, might have evolved due to interactions with dinosaurs. One of the idea's strongest proponents is Robert T. Bakker. He proposes that Herbivore dinosaurs, with their eating habits, provided a selective pressure on plants, for which adaptations either succeeded in deterring or coping with predation by herbivores.
By the late Cretaceous, angiosperms appear to have dominated environments formerly occupied by and , but large canopy-forming trees replaced as the dominant trees only close to the end of the Cretaceous 66 million years ago or even later, at the beginning of the Paleogene.
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Frequently, the influence of fertilisation is felt beyond the ovary, and other parts of the flower take part in the formation of the fruit, e.g., the floral receptacle in the apple, Fragaria, and others.
The character of the seed coat bears a definite relation to that of the fruit. They protect the embryo and aid in dissemination; they may also directly promote germination. Among plants with indehiscent fruits, in general, the fruit provides protection for the embryo and secures dissemination. In this case, the seed coat is only slightly developed. If the fruit is dehiscent and the seed is exposed, in general, the seed-coat is well developed and must discharge the functions otherwise executed by the fruit.
In some cases, like in the Asteraceae family, species have evolved to exhibit heterocarpy, or the production of different fruit morphs.Gardocki, M. E., Zablocki, H., El-Keblawy, A., & Freeman, D. C. (2000). Heterocarpy in Calendula micrantha (Asteraceae): The effects of competition and availability of water on the performance of offspring from different fruit morphs. Evolutionary Ecology Research. 2(6):701-718 These fruit morphs, produced from one plant, are different in size and shape, which influence dispersal range and germination rate. These fruit morphs are adapted to different environments, increasing chances for survival.
Pollen is also produced by meiosis in the male anther (microsporangia). During meiosis, a diploid microspore mother cell undergoes two successive meiotic divisions to produce four haploid cells (microspores or male gametes). Each of these microspores, after further mitoses, becomes a pollen grain (microgametophyte) containing two haploid generative (sperm) cells and a tube nucleus. When a pollen grain makes contact with the female stigma, the pollen grain forms a pollen tube that grows down the style into the ovary. In the act of fertilisation, a male sperm nucleus fuses with the female egg nucleus to form a diploid zygote that can then develop into an embryo within the newly forming seed. Upon germination of the seed, a new plant can grow and mature.
The adaptive function of meiosis is currently a matter of debate. A key event during meiosis in a diploid cell is the pairing of homologous chromosomes and homologous recombination (the exchange of genetic information) between homologous chromosomes. This process promotes the production of increased genetic diversity among progeny and the recombinational repair of damages in the DNA to be passed on to progeny. To explain the adaptive function of meiosis in flowering plants, some authors emphasise diversity and others emphasise DNA repair.
Some angiosperms, including many citrus varieties, are able to produce fruits through a type of apomixis called nucellar embryony.
In some parts of the world, certain single species assume paramount importance because of their variety of uses, for example the coconut ( coconut) on Pacific , and the olive ( olive) in the Mediterranean region.
Flowering plants also provide economic resources in the form of wood, paper, fiber (cotton, flax, and hemp, among others), medicines (digitalis, camphor), decorative and landscaping plants, and many other uses. Coffee and Hot chocolate are the common beverages obtained from the flowering plants. The main area in which they are surpassed by other plants—namely, coniferous trees (Pinales), which are non-flowering (gymnosperms)—is timber and paper production.