Difference between ferns and algae

Ferns and algae are plants that have a certain similarity. But the difference between them is significant. What is it?

What are ferns?

By ferns are plants classified as vascular and higher spore. It can be noted that they are the ancient ancestors of conifers. Thus, ferns are among the oldest plants. They are presented in a large number of biological species. Modern researchers distinguish about 10 thousand species of ferns.


What are the features of the plants under consideration? First of all, ferns actually lack full-fledged leaves. Instead of them, there are so-called flattened plants on the corresponding plants. That is, they are, in fact, branches, not leaves. However, ferns still have a leaf blade.

There is also a root in the structure of plants of this type. Therefore, ferns are classified in modern biological schools as higher plants. In other words, they have tissues with cells of different types.

The plants in question reproduce through spores as well as vegetatively. That is, a fern can grow from a flat plant, rhizome, or, for example, a bud. However, they are also capable of sexual reproduction.

Ferns can grow both on land and in water. For example, the Indian water fern is very popular with hobbyists. It is sometimes referred to as algae. But from the point of view of biology, this is not entirely the correct approach. The aquatic fern can be considered an example of algae only unofficially. The fact is that algae is a completely different type of plant. Let's consider their features.

What are algae?

To algae include a rather large group of plants, which are classified into 12 different departments. So, for example, there are algae blue-green, brown, green, red. In total, biologists isolate about 35-40 thousand plants of the corresponding type.


The main feature of algae is that in their structure there are no elements characteristic of most plants on land - root, stem and leaves. Therefore, in modern biological schools, it is customary to refer to them as lower plants. In turn, in the higher ones - which include ferns - tissues are represented, as we noted above, by different types of cells.

In some algae (in particular, in blue-green ones), the cells lack nuclei. Therefore, they are even classified as bacteria in many biological schools. Algae with nuclei, like many other plants, have chloroplasts. But not all algae of the corresponding type are adapted to photosynthesis.

The size of the plants in question can vary greatly depending on their specific species. Some algae can actually be seen only through a microscope. There are those that are tens of meters long. There are algae and completely unicellular.

Plants of the appropriate type, due to the fact that they do not have a root, can float freely in the water and maintain vital processes at the same time. However, it should be noted that there are algae that can grow on land.

The plants in question reproduce both vegetatively (in particular, through cell division) and sexually.


The main, fundamental difference between ferns and algae is that plants of the first type have separate elements in their structure - the root and flattened, represented by different types of cells. That is, they are higher plants. In algae, in turn, the cells are of the same type. The corresponding plants are inferior.

Thus, from the point of view of evolution, ferns are younger than algae, they are more developed, if we talk about the internal structure, their cells have nuclei. While, in particular, they are absent in blue-green algae.

Ferns have a root, so they can only live on the ground. Algae do not have a root, therefore, they are quite capable of being and developing in free swimming.

Of course, in appearance, ferns differ significantly from most algae. Most importantly, it is a mistake not to classify aquatic fern species as the latter. Such as, for example, Indian, which is popular, as we noted above, among lovers of aquarium fish.

Having determined what the difference between ferns and algae is in principle, we reflect the conclusions in the table.


Ferns Algae
What do they have in common?
There are ferns that live in water and there are algae that can grow on land
Many algae contain chlorophyll and carry out photosynthesis - like ferns and other higher plants
What is the difference between them?
Are higher plants that have tissues with different types of cellsAre lower plants that consist of cells of the same type
There are nuclei in fern cellsThere are algae that do not have nuclei, in particular, blue-green (while many scientists classify them as bacteria)
Can carry out vital activity only on the groundCan carry out life activity in water