Flowering plants are plants that bear flowers and fruits, and form the clade Angiospermae (//), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek words angeion ('container, vessel') and sperma ('seed'), and refers to those plants that produce their seeds enclosed within a fruit. They are by far the most diverse group of land plants with 64 orders, 416 families, approximately 13,000 known genera and 300,000 known species. Angiosperms were formerly called Magnoliophyta (/ - /,).
|Diversity of angiosperms|
|Groups (APG IV)|
Like gymnosperms, angiosperms are seed-producing plants. They are distinguished from gymnosperms by characteristics including flowers, endosperm within their seeds, and the production of fruits that contain the seeds.
The ancestors of flowering plants diverged from the common ancestor of all living gymnosperms before the end of the Carboniferous, over 300 million years ago. The closest fossil relatives of flowering plants are uncertain and contentious.
The earliest angiosperm fossils are in the form of pollen around 134 million years ago during the Early Cretaceous. Over the course of the Cretaceous, angiosperms explosively diversified, becoming the dominant group of plants across the planet by the end of the period, corresponding with the decline and extinction of previously widespread gymnosperm groups. The origin and diversification of the angiosperms is often known as "Darwin's abominable mystery".