The plant kingdom can include one celled organisms (diatoms) as well as complex organisms like angiosperms. Some plants and trees for example, have vascular tissue or well-developed conducting tissue through which water and solutes pass to various parts of the plant. Other plants are non-vascular or do not possess internal transport systems. Most non-vascular plants live in water or in wet environments that facilitate direct diffusion of water and nutrients. Vascular plants however, live on land and possess special features adapted to this environment including roots, stems and leaves.

Dichotomous keys are ideal for plant classification. You can either eliminate or include plants based on several key characteristics. For instance, if it has woody tissue (bark) it is a vascular plant. Leaves, types of seed,  type of flowers are also characteristics of vascular plants.  However, before you can use dichotomous keys you need to describe plants.

The classification of plants can help you think how to group organisms with similar characteristics. In this lab we will look at the characteristics of the specimen by describing them on the lab sheet.  As you read the following pages it will give you some background information of each of the specimens. Look at the specimens and see if there is a clue whether they are vascular or non vascular.  Remember vascular plants have roots, leaves, and stems. 

Look at the following picture and look at some of the descriptive terms.




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