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Groundcover plants are found on the 5th layer of the forest ecology. Groundcover plants are particularly useful in protecting soils from water loss and erosion, decompacting hard ground, and filling a niche that could have otherwise overgrown with weeds.

Some examples are: English Ivy, Japanese Spurge, Ghost Fern, Juniper, Woolly Yarrow, Sandcherry, Bergenia, European Ginger and Bishop's Goutweed.
The Gymnosperms are the cone-bearing plants--pines, junipers, spruces, firs, hemlocks, bald cypresses, eastern white cedar, Atlantic white cedar, and their relatives. The name means "naked seeded" which means that the ovule (the egg cell) is not covered by an organ (the ovary in floweirng plants) but is born on the scale of a structure called a "cone". When the cone and seeds mature, the seeds are often exposed to the environment (however, the cone scales can be fleshy and can tightly cover the seeds, as in the junipers).