The fertile leaves or sporophylls are generally aggregated on special shoots to form rioweN which may contain one or both kinds The microspores are set free from the sporangiurn and carried generally by wind or insect agency to the vicinity of the macrospore, which never leaves the ovule.
The male gametophyte is represented by one or few cells and, except in a few primitive forms where the male cell still retains the motile character as in the Pteridophyta, is carried passively to the macrospore in a development of the pollen grain, the pollen tube.
The ovule is not enclosed in an ovary, and the usually solitary macrospore becomes filled with a prothallus, in the upper part of which are formed several rudimentary archegonia.
The germination of the macrospore consists in the repeated division of its nucleus to form two groups of four, one group at each end of the embryo-sac. One nucleus from each group, the polar nucleus, passes to the centre of the sac, where the two fuse to form the so-called definitive nucleus.
In the natural order Rosaceae, the series Querciflorae, and the very anomalous genus Casuarina and others, instead of a single macrospore a more or less extensive sporogenous tissue is formed, but only one cell proceeds to the formation of a functional female cell.