These plants are differentiated from the nonvascular plants in two important ways:
- Vascular plants have water-carrying tissues, termed tracheids, in their tissues, enabling the plants to evolve larger and more elaborate structures, while non-vascular plants lack these.
- In vascular plants, the principal generation phase is the sporophyte, which is diploid with two sets of chromosomes per cell. In non-vascular plants, the principal generation phase is often the gametophyte, which is haploid with one set of chromosomes per cell. See also alternation of generations.