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).
At an early stage of development a large cell makes its appearance in the central region of the nucellus; this increases in size and eventually forms three cells; the lowest of these grows vigorously and constitutes the megaspore (embryo-sac),which ultimately absorbs the greater part of the nucellus.
The megaspore-nucleus divides repeatedly, and cells are produced from the peripheral region inwards, which eventually fill the sporecavity with a homogeneous tissue (prothallus); some of the superficial cells at the micropylar end of the megaspore increase in size and divide by a tangential wall into two, an upper cell which gives rise to the short two-celled neck of the archegonium, and a lower cell which develops into a large egg-cell.
Each megaspore may contain 2 to 6 archegonia.
The endosperm detached from a large Ginkgo ovule after fertilization bears a close resemblance to that of a cycad; the apex is occupied by a depression, on the floor of which two small holes mark the position of the archegonia, and the outgrowth from the megaspore apex projects from the centre as a short peg.