Monocots And Dicots

The flowering plants are divided into Monocotyledones (monocots) and Dicotyledones (dicots). The primary feature that distinguishes these two classes is the number of cotyledons (KAHT-uh-LEED'nz), or seed leaves, in a plant embryo. Monocots (MAHN-oh-KAHTS) usually have one cotyledon, while dicots (DIE-KAHTS) typically have two. By comparison, gymnosperms usually have two or more cotyledons.

Several characteristics can be used to identify monocots and dicots, as shown in Table 28-3. For example, most mature monocot leaves have several main veins, or bundles of vascular tissue, running parallel to each other. This vein arrangement is called parallel venation. Most dicots have one or more nonparallel veins that branch repeatedly, forming a network. This vein arrangement is called net venation. More than one characteristic should be used to determine whether a species is a monocot or a dicot.

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