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The vascular plants (or tracheophytes) are characterized by the presence of vascular tissue (xylem and phloem) for structural support and for long-distance movement of water and nutrients throughout the plant body.
The relationships among the major groups of vascular plants have become clearer in recent years. Investigations into the origin and evolution of the major groups of vascular plants indicate that there is a deep division of the vascular plants into two lineages. One of these lineages includes only the lycophytes (clubmosses, spikemosses, and quillworts), accounting for less than 1% of vascular plant species. The other lineage (known as Euphyllophyta) includes two major clades: the spermatophytes or seed plants (including more than 250,000 species of angiosperms [flowering plants], conifers, cycads, gnetophytes, and the Gingko) and the monilophytes or ferns (sensu lato, including the horsetails, whisk ferns, and eusporangiate and leptosporangiate ferns, with most of the roughly 12,000 monilophyte species being leptosporangiate ferns).
(Pryer et al. 2001; Pryer et al. 2004; Smith et al. 2006; Lehtonen 2011 and references therein)