Difference Between Bryophytes and Pteridophytes

Main Difference – Bryophytes vs Pteridophytes

Bryophytes and pteridophytes are plants that are classified under kingdom of Plantae. ‘Bryophytes’ is a collective name used for three plant divisions: Marchantiophyta (liverworts), Bryophyta (mosses) and Anthocerotophyta (hornworts). They grow predominantly in amphibious environments. Pteridophyta is a division of plants that consist of a vascular system composed of xylem and phloem. Both bryophytes and pteridophytes exhibit alteration of generations. The gametophyte is dominant in bryophytes whereas the sporophyte is dominant in pteridophytes. Both dominant generations are autotrophs. The main difference between bryophytes and pteridophytes is that the plant body of bryophytes is not differentiated into root, stem, and leaves whereas the plant body of pteridophytes is differentiated into root, stem, and leaves.

This article explains, 

1. What are Bryophytes
      – Definition, Structure, Classification, Characteristics
2. What are Pteridophytes
      – Definition, Structure, Classification, Characteristics
3. What is the difference between Bryophytes and Pteridophytes

Difference Between Bryophytes and Pteridophytes - Comparison Summary

What are Bryophytes

Bryophytes are a division of non-vascular land plants, which are classified under the kingdom of Plantae. They exhibit alteration of generations where the gametophyte is dominant upon the sporophyte. The gametophyte is haploid and produces spores. They are mostly autotrophs. Bryophytes grow in moist, shady places. Therefore, they are considered as amphibians in the kingdom of Plantae. Bryophytes produce phenolic compounds, which deter herbivores. Other plants are also benefited by the water collected by bryophytes. 

The size of the plant varies from a millimeter tall to long strands about one meter long. The plant body is not differentiated into root, stem, and leaves. Root-like structures called rhizoids allow the plant to anchor on a surface. But rhizoids are not water absorbing units. Water is absorbed by the plant body itself and conducted internally in the plant body. Asexual reproduction of bryophytes occurs by fragmentation and small aggregations called gemmae. Water carries sperms to the eggs during sexual reproduction. Fertilization of gametes forms the zygote that is developed into a sporophyte on the female gametophyte. Sporophyte produces spores, which are dispersed by the wind. 

Difference Between Bryophytes and Pteridophytes

Figure 1: The life cycle of bryophytes

Classification of Bryophytes

Marchantiophyta (liverworts), Bryophyta (mosses) and Anthocerotophyta (hornworts) are the three divisions of bryophytes. Liverworts are flattened moss-like leafy plants. The leaves of the liverworts lack costa. But marginal cilia are present in liverworts. Some liverworts do not contain chlorophyll; hence, they rely on a fungal partner for food. Mosses consist of single-cell-thick simple leaves, which are attached to a stem. They grow in dense green clumps. Hornworts consists of a horn-like, elongated sporophyte on the gametophyte. Mosses with red spore capsules are shown in figure 2.

Main Difference - Bryophytes vs Pteridophytes

Figure 2: Mosses with red spore capsules

What are Pteridophytes

Pteridophytes are vascular plants that are differentiated into root, stem, and leaves. Their leaves are called fronds. Tree ferns contain full trunks. They can grow up to 30 meters long while their fronds grow about 4.5 meters long. Many ferns in epical rain forests are epiphytes that grow on the trunks of other trees. Simple pteridophytes consist of single, unbranched veins whereas true ferns consist of a highly specialized vascular system where distinctive gaps occur between xylem and phloem.

Pteridophytes are the most diverse group of land plants after flowering plants. They are the closest relative plant group to seed plants, i.e., angiosperms and conifers.

The sporophyte of pteridophytes is most prominent. Both sporophyte and gametophyte are autotrophs. The gametophyte is multicellular and microscopic. Gametophyte develops both archegonia that produce egg cells and antheridia that produce sperm cells inside the same plant. Therefore, pteridophytes are unisexual plants. Fertilization of gametes produces the zygote that develops into the sporophyte. Pteridophytes consist of neither flowers nor seeds. They reproduce via spores. Most pteridophytes are homosporous while a few of them produce microspores and megaspores. Microspores produce microgametophytes whereas megaspores produce megagametophytes. The life cycle of pteridophytes is shown in figure 3.

Difference Between Bryophytes and Pteridophytes - 3

Figure 3: The life cycle of pteridophytes

Classification of Pteridophytes

Lycopodiopsida (lycophytes) and Polypodiopsida (ferns) are the two subdivisions of pteridophyata. Lycophytes consist of clubmosses, spikemosses, and quillworts. Ferns consist of horsetails, whisk ferns, grape ferns, marattioid ferns and leptosporangiate ferns. Crown ferns are shown in figure 4.

Difference Between Bryophytes and Pteridophytes - 4

Figure 4: Crown ferns

Difference Between Bryophytes and Pteridophytes


Bryophytes: Bryophytes are embryophytes that do not possess a true vascular tissue.

Pteridophytes: Pteridophytes are vascular plants that reproduce via spores.


Bryophytes: Bryophytes live in moist, shady places.

Pteridophytes: Pteridophytes live in terrestrial environments.

Alternative Names

Bryophytes: Bryophytes are called non-vascular plants.

Pteridophytes: Pteridophytes are called cryptogams.


Bryophytes: Gametophyte is dominant in bryophytes.

Pteridophytes: Sporophyte is dominant in pteridophytes.


Bryophytes: Sporophyte completely depends on the gametophyte of bryophytes.

Pteridophytes: Sporophyte is independent of gametophyte and is autotrophic.

Plant Body

Bryophytes: Plant body of bryophytes is either leafy or thalloid.

Pteridophytes: Plant body of pteridophytes is differentiated into roots, stem, and leaves.


Bryophytes: The cells in the plant body of bryophytes are haploid.

Pteridophytes: The cells in the plant body of pteridophytes are diploid.

Vascular Tissue

Bryophytes: Vascular tissues are absent in bryophytes.

Pteridophytes: Vascular tissues like xylem and phloem are present in pteridophytes.

Archegonia Neck

Bryophytes: The neck of the archegonia in bryophytes is long, containing six vertical rows of cells.

Pteridophytes: The neck of the archegonia in pteridophytes is short, containing four vertical rows of cells.


Bryophytes: Hornworts, liverworts, and mosses are examples for bryophytes.

Pteridophytes: Ferns, horsetails, spikemosses, club mosses, and quillworts are examples for pteridophytes.


Bryophytes and pteridophytes are two groups of plants which are neither seed-producing nor flowering plants. Both groups reproduce through spores. The haploid gametophyte is dominant in bryophytes. But, the diploid sporophyte is dominant in pteridophytes. Bryophytes are non-vascular plants while pteridophytes are vascular plants. Therefore, bryophytes live in moist, shady places while pteridophytes are terrestrial. The plant body of bryophytes is not differentiated into root, stem, and leaves. In contrast, the plant body of pteridophytes is differentiated into root, stem, and leaves. Therefore, the main difference between bryophytes and pteridophytes is in the organization of their dominant plant body.

1.”What is a bryophyte ?” What is a bryophyte? – bryophyte. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2017. </
2. What is a bryophyte? N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2017. </
3.”Pteridophytes.” Biology Reference. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2017. </
4. Croft, Jim. “Pteridophytes.” Australian National Botanic Gardans. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2017. </

Image Courtesy:
1.”Moss alternation of generations 03-2012″ By Htpaul – I created this in Microsoft Paint via
2.”RedMoss” By The original uploader was Vaelta at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Von.grzanka via
3. “Pteridophyte lifecycle” By Carl Axel Magnus Lindman – fern from File:Cystopteris fragilis (suite retouche).jpg (retouche from «Bilder ur Nordens Flora» Stockholm), gametophyte from File:Onoclea sensibilis 4 crop.jpg (retouched from File:Onoclea_sensibilis_3_crop.JPG), derivative work. via
4. “Blechnum discolor – crown fern” By Brian Gratwicke – originally posted to Flickr as Blechnum discolor – crown fern via

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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