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The angiosperms, or flowering plants, are one of the major groups of extant seed plants and arguably the most diverse major extant plant group on the planet, with at least 260,000 living species classified in 453 families (Judd et al., 2002; APG II, 2003; Soltis et al., 2005). They occupy every habitat on Earth except extreme environments such as the highest mountaintops, the regions immediately surrounding the poles, and the deepest oceans. They live as epiphytes (i.e., living on other plants), as floating and rooted aquatics in both freshwater and marine habitats, and as terrestrial plants that vary tremendously in size, longevity, and overall form. They can be small herbs, parasitic plants, shrubs, vines, lianas, or giant trees. There is a huge amount of diversity in chemistry (often as a defense against herbivores), reproductive morphology, and genome size and organization that is unparalleled in other members of the Plant Kingdom. Furthermore, angiosperms are crucial for human existence; the vast majority of the world's crops are angiosperms, as are most natural clothing fibers. Angiosperms are also sources for other important resources such as medicine and timber.


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