Companion cells are not found in the Pteridophyta and Gymnosperms. In the latter their place is taken by certain cells of the medullary rays and bast parenchyma.
The Bryophyta and Pteridophyta have sprung from the higher Thallophyta, and together form the larger group Archegoniatae, so-called from the form of the organ (archegonium) in which the egg-cell is developed.
It much more resembles the antherozoids of Bryophyta and certain Pteridophyta than any known among other algae.
It may even be regarded as an open question whether some of them may not have arisen independently and represent parallel lines of evolution from Bryophytic or Algal forms. This leads us to consider the question whether any indications exist as to the manner in which the Pteridophyta arose.
The development of the compound microscope rendered possible the accurate study of their life-histories; and the publication in 1851 of the results of Wilhelm Hofmeister's researches on the comparative embryology of the higher Cryptogamia shed a flood of light on their relationships to each other and to the higher plants, and supplied the basis for the distinction of the great groups Thallophyta, Bryophyta, Pteridophyta and Phanerogamae, the last named including Gymnospermae and Angiospermae.
Without entering further into the discussion of these alternative theories, for which the literature of the subject must be consulted, it may be pointed out that on the latter view the strobiloid forms of Pteridophyta would not necessarily be regarded as primitive relatively to the large-leaved forms, and also that the early stages of the origin of the sporophyte in the two cases may have proceeded on different lines.
If, as has been suggested by Bower, the strobiloid types are relatively primitive, the large-leaved Pteridophyta must be supposed to have arisenearly from such forms. The question cannot be discussed fully here, but enough has been said above to show that in the light of our present knowledge the main phyla of the Vascular Cryptogams cannot be placed in any serial relationship to one another.
On the other hand, fern-like seed-plants, known as Pteridosperms, and Gymnosperms belonging almost entirely to families now extinct, were abundant, while the Pteridophyta attained a development exceeding anything that they can now show.
Fungi Algae Bryophyta Pteridophyta Phanerogamia Gymnosperms Angiosperms Algae in this wide sense may be briefly described as the aggregate of those simpler forms of plant life usually devoid, like the rest of the Thallophyta, of differentiation into root, stem and leaf; but, unlike other Thallophyta, possessed of a colouring matter;.
The Gymnosperms, with the Angiosperms, constitute the existing groups of seed-bearing plants or Phanerogams: the importance of the seed as a distinguishing feature in the plant kingdom may be emphasized by the use of the designation Spermophyta for these two groups, in contrast to the Pteridophyta and Bryophyta in which true seeds are unknown.