What are Angiosperms?
Think of as many different types of plants as you can. The vast majority of those plants are probably angiosperms. Angiosperms make up roughly 80% of the plant species on earth.
Any plant that produces flowers or fruit is an angiosperm. Angiosperms make up the vast majority of plants that humans rely on for food: Wheat, corn, apples, pears, bananas, strawberries, peaches, zucchini, pumpkins, and many, many more.
Angiosperm Examples - Fruit (Diapicard, 2016)
In scientific terms, angiosperms are flowering, seed-bearing vascular plants. Being a vascular plant means that angiosperms contain internal structures known as xylem and ploem that allow them to move water and nutrients between different tissues in their bodies.
In terms of evolutionary time, angiosperms are relatively new compared to other plant lineages. They became so successful so quickly largely because of their mutualistic coevolution with animal pollinators, which allowed angiosperms to reproduce more effectively than much of their competition.
After pollen is transferred into the angiosperm flower by a pollinator, the angiosperm egg is fertilized and develops inside an ovary within the flower. This egg eventually grows into a seed, and in many angiosperms the mature flowering body containing the seed becomes a fruit.
In many species, fruit serves the purpose of enticing animals to consume it, which then spreads the plant’s seeds when they are passed out of the digestive system.
Interestingly, this relationship between angiosperms and the animals used to spread their seeds is the reason that some peppers are so spicy. Spicy peppers contain a substance called capsaicin, which triggers a burning sensation in the mouths of mammals. However, birds cannot taste capsaicin. As a result, plants that only “want” birds to consume and spread their seeds will pack their fruit with capsaicin in order to dissuade mammals from eating it.
Of course, these plants didn’t count on some humans really enjoying the burn of capsaicin.
Diapicard (photographer). (2016). Fruit basket grapse apples [photography]. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/photos/fruit-basket-grapes-apples-pears-1114060/