noun, plural: gymnosperms
The gymnosperms are plants belonging to the Kingdom Plantae, Subkingdom Embryophyta. They include the conifers (pines, cypresses, etc.), cycads, gnetophytes, and Ginkgo. These plants are known for bearing seeds like angiosperms. The gymnosperms and the angiosperms comprise the group of seed-bearing plants called spermatophytes. However, the difference between gymnosperms and angiosperms in terms of seeds is that the seeds of the gymnosperms are naked, meaning the seeds are not enclosed within the ripened ovary (i.e. fruit). The seeds of the gymnosperms develop on the surface of scales or leaves. Certain gymnosperms, such as conifers, are known to produce cones. The cones may be male or female. The male cone (called microstrobilus) bears pollen. The wind and insects are the main agents of pollination. The pollen contains sperm to fertilize the egg inside the ovule in the female cone (called megastrobilus). Ovules that have become fertilized by the pollen become seeds. The economic uses of gymnosperms are for lumber, soap, varnish, nail polish, perfume, gum, and food.
Word origin: Greek gymnos (naked) + sperma (seed)