(botany) The group of seed plants, whose seeds are not enclosed in an ovary.
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.
ANGIOSPERMS. The botanical term "Angiosperm" (ayyeEov, receptacle, and o-71pua, seed) was coined in the form Angiospermae by Paul Hermann in 1690, as the name of that one of his primary divisions of the plant kingdom, which included flowering plants possessing seeds enclosed in capsules, in contradistinction to his Gymnospermae, or flowering plants with achenial or schizo-carpic fruits - the whole fruit or each of its pieces being here regarded as a seed and naked.
Towards the close of the Palaeozoic era, as represented by the Upper Carboniferous and Permian plant-bearing strata, the vegetation of the northern hemisphere and that of several regions in the southern hemisphere, consisted of numerous types of Vascular Cryptogams, with some members of the Gymnospermae, and several genera referred to the Pteridospermae and Cycadofilices (see section I.