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Classifying Plants - Science Lessons for Grade 4 Students

Plants are living organisms that are usually fixed in one position. What makes plants different from most other organisms is that they are able to make their own food.

Plants can be most easily classified into flowering and nonflowering. Obviously, flowering plants are those that bear flowers and nonflowering plants are those that do not. More importantly, the difference between the two types of plants is the way in which they reproduce. Flowering plants do it sexually, getting help from wind and insects to spread their seeds, but non-flowering plants reproduce asexually.

Flowering plants

Flowering plants produce flowers and fruits in order to reproduce. They begin their lives as seeds which are mostly contained inside the fruits of the plant. Each seed has a hard outer shell to protect the embryo inside. The seeds are dispersed in various ways. Once the seed falls to the ground, it uses air, water and soil to grow. First, roots are grown, which are followed by the stem and leaves. The seedling, as this small plant is called, grows into a mature plant which again bears flowers and the cycle goes on.

Some examples of flowering plants are given below:




Non-flowering plants

Non flowering plants, as mentioned above, are those plants that do not produce flowers for reproduction. Non-flowering plants can be divided into two groups on the basis of how they reproduce. One group of non-flowering plants reproduces from seeds, while the other group reproduces from spores.

It should be remembered that the seeds of the non-flowering plants are not covered, unlike that of flowering plants. They are ‘naked’ seeds. These seeds fly around in the air until they fall to the ground and thus help new plants to form.

Examples of non-flowering plants that reproduce from seeds are given below:



Ferns are examples of plants that reproduce using spores. These spores, once released from the plant, are carried far by wind or water, and land in other places, and from them a new plant will grow.


Trees, shrubs and herbs

Another way to classify plants is according to their appearance. We can classify them into trees, shrubs and herbs.

Trees are strong, tall and big. They usually live long. Some of them might bear flowers and fruits seasonally. Though many trees have leaves all the year round, some trees shed their leaves in winter. Examples of some trees are mango tree, palm tree and neem tree.

Mango tree

Shrubs are not as tall as trees. They are mostly bushy and have small branches. Examples of some shrubs are hibiscus and lantana.


Lastly, there are herbs, which have soft stems and are small. They have a short life span. Most of the vegetables that we use come from herbs. Some common herbs are coriander, spinach and mint.


Other than these, it should be mentioned that there are also climbers. The climbers have weak stems and cannot hold themselves upright on their own. They have to climb using a support. There are still other plants that crawl along the ground. These are known as creepers. Some examples of creepers and climbers are money plant, bitter gourds and watermelon.

Bitter gourd plant

Besides these, there are some plants that live in water, like lotus. These water plants hold themselves up with long stems under water. Usually they have large, flat leaves that float on water.

Lotus plant

Yet another type of plants is the cacti. These plants grow in hot deserts. They have deep roots to reach wherever water is available. Their fleshy stems can store water.