Types of Flowerless Plants

  • In the light of what has been said about flowers it may well be questioned how anything can be a plant and still have no flower. The fact is that flowers as we commonly understand them are unknown in the plants about to be discussed, but that what corresponds to a flower, and performs the function of a flower all plants must and do have. In the case of most flowering plants the possession of flowers is one of the beauties of nature in its most resplendent mood, while in the so-called flowerless plants the functions of flowers are performed by tiny microscopic organs, even the existence of which has been only recently discovered. Because flowering plants produce their sexual organs in such a gorgeous setting, for all the world to see their matings they have been called phanerogams, which means literally visible marriage, while the flowerless plants which perform similar functions in more secret ways are called cryptogams, meaning hidden marriage.

    These cryptogams or flowerless plants occur in far greater numbers in the world than flowering plants, but their size in most cases is very much less. Many individuals are so small, as in the case of bacteria, that a single one can only be seen after it has been magnified many hundreds of times by the microscope.

  • Some one has said that one day without water would make men liars, in two days they become thieves, and after the third or fourth day they would kill to get water. In the Army Records at Washington is a report of one of our expeditions, which in chasing Indians got lost in a desert, and in which the soldiers fought among themselves for even the most repulsive liquids. It hardly needs these gruesome examples, however, to confirm what everyone who has ever been mildly thirsty knows, that water is an essential for all animals, and that to be without it is to suffer torture. Air of the proper kind is just as important, and because its absence or impurity causes more sudden agony and a quicker death, the need of it is that much more acute. Plants rely even more upon these two essentials of life, and in getting them they behave in ways just as ruthless as do men who are suddenly deprived of either of them.

  • The natural fats, vegetable oils, and plant waxes are all esters. There is no essential difference between a fat and an oil, the latter term being usually applied to a fat which is liquid at ordinary temperatures. The waxes, however, are different in chemical composition from the fats and oils, being esters of monohydric alcohols of high molecular weight, such as cetyl alcohol, C16H33OH, myristic alcohol, C30H61OH, and cholesterol, C27H45OH; whereas the fats and oils are all esters of the trihydric alcohol glycerol, C3H5(OH)3 .