The ancient broad-leaved Gymnosperm Gnetum has a few surviving species scattered through the tropics of both worlds, one reaching Polynesia.
Ovules naked, rarely without carpellary leaves, usually borne on carpophylls, which assume various forms. The single megaspore enclosed in the nucellus is filled with tissue (prothallus) before fertilization, and contains two or more archegonia, consisting usually of a large egg-cell and a small neck, rarely of an egg-cell only and no neck (Gnetum and Welwitschia).
It is of interest to note that the leaves of Gnetum, while typically Dicotyledonous in appearance, possess a Gymnospermous character in the continuous and plate-like medullary rays of their vascular bundles.
In certain species of Gnetum described by Karsten the megaspore contains a peripheral layer of protoplasm, in which scattered nuclei represent the female reproductive cells; in Gnetum Gnemon a similar state of things exists in the upper half of the megaspore, while the lower half agrees with the megaspore of Welwitschia in being full of prothallus-tissue, which serves merely as a reservoir of food.