Plants with seed pods

Examples of Non-Flowering Plants

Non-flowering plants are those that do not ever produce flowers. Some non-flowering plants, called gymnosperms, still produce seeds while others use spores for reproduction.


Gymnosperms are any type of vascular plant that reproduce via an exposed seed. While most flowering plants, known as angiosperms, have a seed enclosed in an ovary or fruit, gymnosperms (which means “naked seeds”) do not have covers on their seeds.

Some examples of non-flowering plants that are classified as gymnosperms include:


Found all over the world, conifers are largely woody plants, with trees making up the vast majority of conifers. They bear male and female cones that pollinate and spread.

Conifers include:

  • Junipers
  • Cedars
  • Cypresses
  • Firs
  • Pines
  • Redwoods
  • Yews
  • Spruce
  • Larches
  • Kauris


Ancient plants dating to the Jurassic era, cycads are primarily found today in tropical or subtropical climates. Cycads are characterized by having thick trunks and large divided leaves; they have visual similarities to palms and tree-ferns.


Commonly known as the maidenhair tree, Gingko Biloba, is the only remaining species of the Ginkgophyta plant division. While they only grow in the wild in China, they have been cultivated around the world. They have green fan-shaped notched leaves that yellow in cooler weather. The male trees produce tiny cones that produce pollen; the females, once pollinated and fertilized, produce seeds with a noxious odor.


This plant division is fairly broad, including approximately 70 species, all of which have vessel elements transporting water within the plants. Examples of gentophyte non-flowering plants are Ephedra, Gentum and Welwitschia.

Other Non-Flowering Plants

Unlike Gymnosperms, all of these other non-flowering plants reproduce using spores; they do not produce seeds. Examples of some of the most commonly known non-flowering plants are ferns, mosses and liverworts.

Spores are tiny living cells which leave the plant on which they originate and are pollinated and fertilized away from the original organism.


Very common plants, ferns are vascular plants that have a stem, leaf and root. Ferns can be found in forests, but also are cultivated to improve the quality of soil or to improve air quality. They are also used ornamentally in landscaping as well as inside homes and some people even eat the plant. They produce spores which develop into a photosynthetic structure called a prothallus; the underside of the prothallus has organs that produce sperm and eggs that allow the ferns to self-fertilize, at which point a sporophyte develops and grows into a fern.


With approximately 12,000 species, mosses are very prevalent and grow in moist areas with low light.


Also known as Whisk Ferns, the Psilotales are a small group of plants, including Psilotum and Tmesipteris, believed to date from the Devonian era.


These small plants are like mosses but they have flattened bodies or stems and grow on rocks or the ground. Some even grow in pools of water. There are over 8,500 species worldwide, often in moist areas, though there are some outliers that live in drier climates.

Club mosses

Tropical mountains are the primary home of the club mosses, but they can be found in northern forests as well. These mosses are evergreens, with leaves that are needlelike and clustered.


Found in damp environments, hornworts are known to grow anywhere from the backs of trees to gardens and fields. They are small and short and are sometimes considered weeds. They were previously a part of the same grouping as mosses and liverworts.


Equisetum is the only genus of this non-flowering plant that is not extinct. With small leaves around the stem, these plants grow anywhere from 7 inches to 26 feet tall, depending on species.

The role of the pod in seed development: strategies for manipulating yield

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  • Yanagisawa S, Yoo S‐d, Sheen J. 2003. Differential regulation of EIN3 stability by glucose and ethylene signalling in plants. Nature 425: 521– 525.
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Seeds and Seed Pods

Spotting AchmmadMWY 4 White edge morning glory seed-pod KarenL 2 Black Pine Emma 1 Unknown Spotting Ajit 1 Spotting Rubens Araujo 5 Turkish Pine CindyBinghamKeiser 0 Dandelion moralcoral 2 Nickernut auntnance123 1 Bolota João Mourão 4 Jacaranda JinkyDee 4 Acorns Emma 1 Sterculia wendy.yatno 5 Common Mullein AntónioGinjaGinja 1 Araucaria paranaense (Parana pine) asergio 12 Balloon Vine/Heart Pea VivBraznell 2 Purple Sunflower Seeds misako.hill 3 Mango tree Abe A 2 Earpod wattle injica 4 Turkish Pine CindyBinghamKeiser 0 Birch LarsKorb 1 Common Blue bayucca 38 Alstromeria Rolo 3 Spotting wendy.yatno 4 Japanese Thuja (cones) LarsKorb 0 Canary Island Pine CindyBinghamKeiser 0 Great Morinda moralcoral 2 Rock Daisy Seed Heads misako.hill 3 Grass flower and seeds rubens.luciano 26 Stinking Iris misako.hill 4 Crimson Rosella juvenile & adult Leuba 1 Common Blue bayucca 9 Stinking passionflower AchmmadMWY 9 Balloon plant or Love in a puff LuisStevens 4 Black-backed Wagtail MJ 3 Maple Tree alicelongmartin 1 Northern Catalpa tree and pods CarolSnowMilne 4 Common Blue bayucca 5 Southern Silky Oak Emma 2 Little Bluestem Grass Jaybird 2 Rose Hip João Mourão 3 Ring-necked Pheasant AlikaKay 13 Unnamed spotting Emma 3 macadamia nut PatriciaPi 6 almond tree, almendro arlanda 5 Crepe Myrtle seed Pod Emma 1 Hickory (empty nut husks) KarenL 1 Nasturtium, seed pods LarsKorb 9 Lily Of The Nile Emma 1 Golden Rain Tree Emma 7 Cacao Flowers and Pods misako.hill 8


Lotus Flowers

The Lotus is a sacred flower for Hindus and Buddhists. It is symbolically equal to the Buddha for Buddhists.

The Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) symbolizes purity, beauty, majesty, grace, fertility, wealth, richness, knowledge and serenity. The Pink Lotus is the National Flower of India. Nelumbo nucifera is known by a number of common names, including Sacred lotus, Indian lotus and Sacred water-lily.

Kingdom Plantae Division Magnoliophyta Class Magnoliopsida Order Proteales Family Nelumbonaceae Genus Nelumbo

Lotuses are found in white and pink colors in general and they grow in shallow and murky waters. Lotus flowers enjoy warm sunlight and are intolerant to cold weather. This is why the Lotus is not seen blossoming in the winter. The floating leaves and Lotus flowers have long stems, which contain air spaces to maintain the buoyancy. The Lotus is native to Asia and flourishes in a wide range of climates from India to China.

The Lotus plant is an aquatic perennial, native to southern Asia and Australia and most commonly cultivated in water gardens. The plant has its roots firmly in the mud and sends out long stems to which their leaves are attached. The leaves are sometimes, and Lotus flowers always, raised above the water surface. The beautiful and fragrant Lotus flower opens in the morning and petals fall in the afternoon.

Facts about Lotus Flowers

  • The Lotus is a sacred flower for Buddhists.
  • The Lotus flower is quoted extensively in Puranic and Vedic literature.
  • The Lotus is one of the eight auspicious signs of Buddhism – an eight petalled lotus used in Buddhist mandalas symbolizes cosmic harmony, a thousand petalled Lotus, spiritual illumination. A bud symbolizes potential. The well-known Buddhist mantra, “Om mane padme,” refers to the jewel in the lotus, enlightenment.
  • In Egyptian mythology, the Lotus is associated with the sun, because it bloomed by day and closed by night. The Lotus is even believed to have given birth to the sun.
  • The roots of the Lotus are planted in the soil of the pond or river bottom, while the leaves float on top of the water surface. The Lotus flowers are usually found on thick stems rising several centimeters above the water.
  • The Lotus flowers, seeds, young leaves and rhizomes are all edible. In Asia, the petals are sometimes used for garnish, while the large leaves are used as a wrap for food.
  • Various parts of the sacred Lotus are also used in traditional Asian herbal medicine.
  • The Lotus fruits are a conical pod with seeds contained in holes in the pod. Nucifera means having hard fruit. When the seeds are ripe, they become loose in the pod. The pod then tips down towards the water, releasing the seeds.
  • When the Lotus flower’s petals fall, they are replaced by a flat-topped seed pod divided into compartments, resembling a wasp’s hive. The tender seeds are munched happily in north-east India.
  • The Lotus stem is eaten almost in all parts of India, and pickled too.
  • Nelumbium luteum is the American Lotus, with pale, small flowers.
  • The Indian or Chinese Lotus, nelumbium nelumbo, usually has pink flowers although white, rose and double varieties are available.

Growing a Lotus

  • Place the seeds into a glass of non-chlorinated, warm water.
  • The seeds that float should be thrown away since they are probably not fertile and will only cloud up the water. Change the water every day while you are waiting for them to sprout.
  • Once you see the Lotus roots emerge, pot them in 4-inch pots filled with good garden loam; a depression should be made and one seed should be set in each pot. Cover the root gently with soil or gravel.
  • If you waited too long and the Lotus leaves started to grow, keep them free of soil as you cover the root.
  • The seed should be set in warm water up to 2 inches deep; no more than that.
  • Give the Lotus as much light as possible until the water in your garden warms up to at least 60 degrees F.
  • At this time, plant your Lotuses in larger containers without drainage holes.
  • Lotuses started from seeds will probably not bloom in the first year.

Lotus Plant Care

  • The Lotus plant should be fertilized sparingly for the first year.
  • Too much fertilizer may cause the Lotus foliage to burn.
  • A Lotus plant that is established can be fed every 3 or 4 weeks during the growing season.
  • Care must be taken when inserting fertilizer tabs, because the growing tip and new growth can be damaged.
  • It is important to protect the Lotus roots from freezing.
  • Lotus can winter over in the pond if the pond depth is below the freeze line for your area.
  • In late fall, the yellowed foliage should be cut off and the plant lowered to the deepest part of the pond.
  • Or you may lift the tubers after the plant has died back during the fall.
  • If you lift the tubers, store them in a cool, frost-free location until late spring.
  • To help prevent mildew and rotting, store them in living sphagnum moss.


The lotus is venerated in the Far East, where it symbolizes attaining nirvana: It begins its life in the mud but eventually rises to the heavens. The plant is spectacular in both foliage and flower and is an ideal addition to larger water gardens.

Description of lotus: The round leaves, up to 3 feet across, float on the surface of the water early in the season but subsequent leaves rise on tall stalks to 6 feet in height. They are a beautiful glaucous green and water droplets bead up on their surface for an attractive and intriguing display. The giant flowers (up to 10 inches across) are delightfully perfumed and open in mid to late summer. They range in color from white to yellow to deep pink. When the petals fall, the drying seed pod adds a further point of interest. Ease of care of lotus: Easy.


Growing lotus: Plant lotus tubers in spring in large containers, covering all but the growing tip. Submerge in 2 to 6 inches of water. Lotus need full sun and regular fertilizer to grow well. Plants often do not bloom until the second year after purchase.

Propagating lotus: By division.

Uses of lotus: A lotus makes a dramatic focal point for a larger water garden, although there are dwarf types that adapt to medium-size pools. The cone-shape seed pods are often used in dried flower arrangements.

Related varieties of lotus: A wide range of varieties is available with single to double flowers. Mrs. Perry Slocum is a popular double variety whose giant flowers change from deep pink to creamy yellow as they age. Shirokunshi, with tulip-shaped yellow blooms, is one of the better miniature varieties, reaching only 18 to 24 inches in height. The native North American lotus, Nelumbo lutea, produces yellow flowers and is a bit hardier (USDA zone 4) than its Asiatic cousin.

Scientific name of lotus: Nelumbo nucifera

Want more information on gardening and great plants you can grow? Try:

  • Garden Types: There are many ways to cultivate a lush oasis around your home. Read about all the different types of gardens you can create.
  • Gardening: Get great tips on how to keep your garden healthy and thriving.
  • Water Gardens: Learn how to plant a vital water garden to bring new life into your yard or patio space.
  • Water Garden Plants: Find out about stunning options for planting that will make your water garden unique and lovely.

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