Vascular vs. Non-Vascular Plants: What’s The Difference Between Vascular And Non-Vascular Plants?

What's the difference between vascular and non-vascular plants? Both types of plants are important in the ecosystem but play different roles. Read more to learn about the difference between these two types of plants.
Vascular vs. Non-Vascular Plants: 5 Key Differences, Pros & Cons, Examples

Vascular vs. Non-Vascular Plants: plants are divided into two major categories: Vascular Plants and non-vascular plants. If we look at vascular Vs. non-vascular plants differences, both are different from each other due to the vascular system. As vascular plants contain a Vascular system(Xylem and phloem), while non-vascular plants don’t. Therefore, vascular plants are known as higher plants, while nonvascular as lower plants.

Let’s take a closer look at Non-vascular plants vs. Vascular

Vascular SystemVascular plants have vascular systems while nonvascular don’t
Known AsVascular plants are known as higher plants, while nonvascular plants as lower plants
HeightVascular plants grow taller than nonvascular
Structural SupportOnly vascular plants have structural support due to the vascular system

What Are Vascular Plants?

What Are Vascular Plants? If we look at the vascular meaning: these are the plants with xylem and phloem(vascular system). These plants are also known as Tracheophytes, the group of higher plants belonging to the Kingdom "Plantae". These are the green plants which have specialized tissues known as vascular tissues. These tissues are the specific feature of these plants, which varies them from the nonvascular plants. These tissues, the xylem and phloem, are responsible for the transport of minerals and water and other products from the different parts of the plant. These plants can grow up to height because of the support provided by vascular bundles and can be found on land, in deserts and in aquatic environments. Not only the vascular system, but these plants also have well-defined root and shoot systems. These plants also have leaves, flowers, fruit and wood.

If we look at the vascular meaning: these are the plants with xylem and phloem(vascular system). These plants are also known as Tracheophytes, the group of higher plants belonging to the Kingdom “Plantae”. These are the green plants which have specialized tissues known as vascular tissues. These tissues are the specific feature of these plants, which varies them from the nonvascular plants. These tissues, the xylem and phloem, are responsible for the transport of minerals and water and other products from the different parts of the plant. These plants can grow up to height because of the support provided by vascular bundles and can be found on land, in deserts and in aquatic environments. Not only the vascular system, but these plants also have well-defined root and shoot systems. These plants also have leaves, flowers, fruit and wood.

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What Are Non-vascular Plants?

What Are Non-vascular Plants? Let's look at the non-vascular plants meaning: these are simple and small plants that do not have a vascular bundle, xylem or phloem. These plants are also known as bryophytes and are said to be the most primitive form of land vegetation. Liverworts, hornworts and mosses are some of these plants. Due to the absence of vascular bundles, these plants also lack true stems, leaves, and roots and have a poor transport system. Because the transport system mainly consists of the two tissues xylem and phloem, which are responsible for carrying the water and mineral to the different parts of the plant. But in contrast to the vascular bundles, these plants have certain other specialized tissues which help them in the transportation of water and minerals. But these specialized tissues do not contain lignin; that's why these cannot be said to be vascular tissues. Due to the absence of vascular bundles, these plants cannot grow at large heights and the absence of wood, fruits and flowers. These plants are mostly found in shady and moist areas. The green parts of these plants, known as the thallus and rhizoids, have thin filaments, which help in anchoring the plant to the ground.

Let’s look at the non-vascular plants meaning: these are simple and small plants that do not have a vascular bundle, xylem or phloem. These plants are also known as bryophytes and are said to be the most primitive form of land vegetation. Liverworts, hornworts and mosses are some of these plants. Due to the absence of vascular bundles, these plants also lack true stems, leaves, and roots and have a poor transport system. Because the transport system mainly consists of the two tissues xylem and phloem, which are responsible for carrying the water and mineral to the different parts of the plant. But in contrast to the vascular bundles, these plants have certain other specialized tissues which help them in the transportation of water and minerals. But these specialized tissues do not contain lignin; that’s why these cannot be said to be vascular tissues. Due to the absence of vascular bundles, these plants cannot grow at large heights and the absence of wood, fruits and flowers. These plants are mostly found in shady and moist areas. The green parts of these plants, known as the thallus and rhizoids, have thin filaments, which help in anchoring the plant to the ground.

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5 Key Differences Between Vascular Plants and Non-vascular Plants

ComponentsVascular PlantsNon-vascular Plants
CharacteristicsVascular plants are green, heightened plants which have specialized tissue for the transportation of water and minerals and food to the other parts of the plant. These tissues are known as the vascular bundles, which also help the plant to grow to a certain height.Non-vascular plants are short heightened plants which lack vascular bundles which can transport water and essential minerals to the parts of plants. These plants also don’t have wood, flowers and fruits and can be found in moist and shady places.
Life CycleIn the life cycle of vascular plants, the principal or dominating phase is the sporophytes, and the second one is the gametophyte.In the life cycle of nonvascular plants, the principal or dominating generation is the gametophyte, and the second one is the sporophyte.
RootVascular plants have the proper root system, which helps them anchor into the soil and get all the nutrients and water from it.Non-vascular plants do not have a proper root system. Instead, they have small hairs known as rhizoids, which hold the plant.
ShootThe stem of the vascular plants is multi-layer and helps protect the plant and transport all the water and food through it.Non-vascular plants do not have true stems because they lack vascular bundles, xylem and phloem.
LeavesThe leaves of the vascular plant have a well-defined shape. They have stomata to exchange gas and also play a role in photosynthesis.Non-vascular plants do not have proper leaves, and there are also no specialized tissues for water loss and gas exchange.

Vascular vs. Non-vascular Plants Similarities

  • Whether it is a Vascular or Nonvascular plant, both belong to the same kingdom, “Plantae”.
  • Both are the type of plants which have chloroplast and chlorophyll. Both undergo photosynthesis and provide oxygen for a living organism.
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Vascular vs. Non-vascular Plants Examples

Vascular Examples

  • Ferns
  • Flowering Plants
  • Gymnosperms

Non-vascular Plants Examples

  • Liverwort
  • Algae
  • Moss
  • Hornwort

Vascular vs. Non-vascular Plants Pros and Cons

Vascular Plants Pros and Cons

Vascular Plants Pros and Cons

Pros of Vascular plants

  • Vascular plants have sufficient growth due to the presence of vascular tissues.
  • These plants have true roots, flowers, fruits and wood. And xylem and phloem present within them transport the nutrient and water to the parts of the plant.

Cons of Vascular Plants

  • The seedless vascular plants have a main advantage in that their gametes cannot be dispersed by biotic factors like seedling ones.
  • Such seedless vascular plants face difficulty in reproduction, except any animal or bird helps them in dispersing their grains.

Non-vascular Plants Pros and Cons

Non-vascular Plants Pros and Cons

Pros of Non-vascular plants

  • Non-vascular plants are very helpful, as they help in making oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere and make it livable for other plants and animals.
  • Non-vascular plants also provide a habitat for many species of micro-animals, which benefits the soil quality in return.

Cons of Non-vascular Plant

  • Non-vascular plants do not have proper root structures which can provide them nutrients from the soil.
  • Vascular tissues: xylem and phloem are also absent in nonvascular plants. That’s why they cannot grow in height.

Comparison Chart

What's the difference between vascular and non-vascular plants? Both types of plants are important in the ecosystem but play different roles. Read more to learn about the difference between these two types of plants.

Comparison Video

VASCULAR vs NON-VASCULAR PLANTS 🤔 | What’s the difference? | Learn with examples

Conclusion

Vascular and non-vascular plants are the two main types of plants. Both of these types belong to the same kingdom, “Plantae”. But if we talk about vascular versus non-vascular plants, both are different in many ways; the main difference between vascular and non-vascular plants is that vascular plants have vascular tissues: xylem and phloem, while nonvascular plants lack these tissues. Moreover, vascular plants can grow up to height because of the support provided by the vascular bundle and can be found on land, in deserts and in aquatic environments as well, while nonvascular plants cannot grow much taller  Due to the absence of vascular bundles and are mostly found in the shady and moist areas.

Alex Stantor
Alex Stantor

Alex Stantor is a Sorbonne University (Paris, France) graduate in Philosophy and Data Analysis. Currently, he is an Author and Researcher at Difference 101, he writes articles/blog posts on topics such as "thinking differently" and "the importance of difference". Alex is a passionate advocate of diversity in the workplace and in companies, and diversity and inclusion in corporate communications. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

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