How Do Nonvascular Plants Get Water?

Nonvascular plants, which lack a vascular system, absorb water from nearby water sources. They distribute water to their parts through the slow process of capillary action, diffusion and cytoplasmic streaming.

Nonvascular plants mostly grow in moist, shady places. They often cannot thrive in dry environments, because they don’t have roots and other necessary parts to obtain and transport water. They lack phloem, which transports food in vascular plants, and xylem, which delivers water. They are kept in place by small hairs, called rhizoids, which are inserted into the substrate.

The three types of nonvascular plants are mosses, liverworts and hornworts. Mosses typically grow on the forest ground and cover tree trunks. They have tiny, leaf-like structures and short stems with wiry branches. Liverworts grow close to the ground and create large mats on the surface. Hornworts have a similar appearance to soft pine needles and are often immersed in ponds and lakes.

Nonvascular plants grow up to two centimeters only, as they don’t have the woody tissue needed for land support. They cannot produce flowers or seeds. They reproduce sexually by creating gametes and asexually by breaking off plant material, leaves and other parts, thus allowing secondary plants to form new buds that carry the original plant’s genetic information.