Difference Between Cryptogams and Phanerogams

Main Difference – Cryptogams  vs Phanerogams

Cryptogams and phanerogams are two sub-kingdoms of the kingdom Plantae. This classification system was introduced by A. W. Eichler in 1883. The main difference between cryptogams and phanerogams is that Cryptogams consist of seedless plants whereas phanerogams consist of seed-bearing plants. Cryptogams comprise plants like algae, mosses, and ferns. Cryptogams are non-flowering plants, which mainly reproduce by the production of spores. They do not produce fruits. Phanerogams comprise gymnosperms and angiosperms. Gymnosperms are non-flowering plants with naked-seeds (seeds are not covered by a fruit). Angiosperms are flowering plants that produce seeds covered by a fruit. Angiosperms are the most prominent vegetation on earth. 

Key Areas Covered

1. What are Cryptogams
      – Definition, Characteristics, Classification, Examples
2. What are Phanerogams
      – Definition, Characteristics, Classification, Examples
3. What are the Similarities Between Cryptogams and Phanerogams
      – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Cryptogams and Phanerogams
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Angiosperms, Algae, Bryophyta, Cryptogams, Ferns, Flowering Plants, Fruits, Gymnosperms, Mosses, Non-Flowering Plants, Phanerogams, Pteridophyte, Seed-bearing Plants, Seedless Plants, Thallophyta

Difference Between Cryptogams and Phanerogams - Comparison Summary

What are Cryptogams

Cryptogams refer to the seedless plants or plant-like organisms. Cryptogams form a sub-kingdom in the kingdom Plantae called Cryptogamae. The major characteristic of the Cryptogamae is that they reproduce by means of spores. Therefore, Cryptogams do not produce flowers, seeds or fruits. They consist of hidden reproductive organs. And Many plant bodies of Cryptogams are not differentiated into true leaves, stems, and roots. Many of them do not have a vascular system as well. The sub-kingdom Crytogamae is further divided into three phyla; phylum Thallophyta, phylum Bryophyta, and phylum Pteridophyta.

Thallophyta

Thallophyta consists of both unicellular and multicellular organisms. The multicellular body can be either thallus-like or filamentous. Thallophyta comprises organisms that belong to three kingdoms; kingdom Monera, kingdom Protista, and kingdom Fungi. The blue-green bacteria of the kingdom Monera belong to Thallophyta. In the kingdom Protista, all red, green, and brown algae belong to Thallophyta. Moreover, all fungi along with lichens belong to Thallophyta.

Difference Between Cryptogams and Phanerogams

Figure 1: Common Orange Lichen

Bryophyta

Bryophyta consists of liverworts, mosses, and hornworts. Most bryophytes grow in wet, shady environments. They show alterations of generations along with a prominent gametophyte. The plant body is not differentiated into true stem, root, and leaves. Bryophytes are non-vascular plants.

Difference Between Cryptogams and Phanerogams_Figure 2

Figure 2: Moss

Pteridophytes

Pteridophytes consist of ferns. Ferns are well-developed plants that grow in dry environments. They also grow in wet environments. Ferns show the alterations of generations along with a prominent sporophyte. Ferns are differentiated into true leaves, stem, and root. Ferns are vascular plants.

Difference Between Cryptogams and Phanerogams_Figure 3

Figure 3: Ferns

What are Phanerogams

Phanerogams refer to the seed-bearing plants. The phanerogams are also called spermatophyte. Phanerogams form a sub-kingdom in the kingdom Plantae called Phanerogamae. The major characteristic of phanerogams is that they produce seeds. Phanerogams are vascular plants with differentiated boy structures into leaves, stem, and root. The sub-kingdom Phanerogamae is further divided into gymnosperms and angiosperms.

Gymnosperms

Gymnosperms are non-flowering plants that produce naked-seeds. Gymnosperms are monocots since they develop from a single seed-leaf. They are vascular plants with an unbranched, parallel vein system in the leaves. Gymnosperms can be divided into four phyla; phylum Cycadophyta, phylum Ginkophyta, phylum Coniferophyta, and phylum Gnetophyta.

Main Difference - Cryptogams vs Phanerogams

Figure 4: Palm Seeds

Angiosperms

Angiosperms are flowering plants that produce a seed covered by a fruit. They can be either monocots or dicots. Angiosperms consist of a highly differentiated vascular system and they are the most prominent group of plants on earth. Their reproductive structure is the flower. They also show double fertilization. A passion flower and its fruit is shown in figure 5.

Main Difference - Cryptogams vs Phanerogams_Figure 5

Figure 5: Passion Flower and Fruit

Similarities Between Cryptogams and Phanerogams

  • Cryptogams and phanerogams are two classifications of the kingdom Plantae.
  • Both Cryptogams and phanerogams are autotrophic eukaryotes.
  • The cell wall of both Cryptogams and phanerogams contain cellulose.
  • Both Cryptogams and phanerogams contain chlorophyll.
  • Most Cryptogams and phanerogams are sessile.

Difference Between Cryptogams and Phanerogams

Definition

Cryptogams: Cryptogams refer to a plant or plant-like organisms that produce spores.

Phanerogams: Phanerogams refer to the higher plants that produce seeds.

Classification

Cryptogams: Cryptogams consist of Thallophyta, Bryophyta, and Pteridophyta.

Phanerogams: Phanerogams consist of gymnosperms and angiosperms.

Major Reproduction method

Cryptogams: The major reproduction method of cryptogams is the production of spores.

Phanerogams: The major reproduction method of phanerogams is the production of gametes.

Plant Body

Cryptogams: Most cryptogams lack well-differentiated stem, leaves, and roots.

Phanerogams: The plant body of phanerogams is well-differentiated into stem, leaves and roots.

Vascular System

Cryptogams: Cryptogams do not have a well-developed vascular system.

Phanerogams: Phanerogams have a well-developed vascular system.

Reproductive Organs

Cryptogams: Cryptogams contain hidden reproductive organs.

Phanerogams: Phanerogams contain well-developed reproductive organs.

External Water for Fertilization

Cryptogams: Cryptogams require external water for fertilization.

Phanerogams: Phanerogams do not require external water for fertilization.

Seeds

Cryptogams: Cryptogams are seedless plants.

Phanerogams: Phanerogams are seed-bearing plants.

New Plants

Cryptogams: Spores germinate and produce new plants in cryptogams.

Phanerogams: Seeds germinate and produce new phanerogams.

Evolution

Cryptogams: Cryptogams are less evolved plants.

Phanerogams: Phanerogams are well-evolved plants compared to cryptogams.

Examples

Cryptogams: Algae, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and ferns are the examples of cryptogams.

Phanerogams: Conifers, Ginko, cycads, gnetophytes, and dicots are the examples of phanerogams.

Conclusion

Cryptogams and phanerogams are two sub-kingdoms of the kingdom Plantae. Cryptogams consist of seedless plants and plant-like organisms whereas phanerogams consist of seed-bearing plants. Cryptogams do not develop flowers and fruits as well. Most Cryptogams do not have a vascular system. Cryptogams can be divided into Thallophyta, Bryophyta, and Pteridophyta. In contrast to Cryptogams, phanerogams are highly developed plants with a vascular system and plant body differentiation. The two classes of phanerogams are gymnosperms and angiosperms. Gymnosperms are non-flowering plants with a naked-seed. Angiosperms are flowering plants with seeds covered by fruits. The main difference between cryptogams and phanerogams is the presence or absence of seeds.

Reference:

1.“What is Cryptogams?” PublishYourArticles.net – Publish Your Articles Now, 27 June 2015, Available here. Accessed 24 Aug. 2017.
2. “Kingdom Plantae.” PLANT BIOLOGY, Available here. Accessed 24 Aug. 2017.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Common orange lichen – Gewöhnliche Gelbflechte – Xanthoria parietina” By Norbert Nagel – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus” By Heike Hofmann – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
3. “Polystichum setiferum 001” By Georges Jansoone User:JoJan – Own work (Public Domain)  via Commons Wikimedia
4. “1528533” (Public Domain) via Pixabay
5. “Blue Passion Flower and Fruit” By Mohansen11 – Molly C. Hansen of Los Angeles (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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