Ancient Forests: Survivors of a Green and Growing History
Our Forest Journey begins in the Late Cambrian Period, some 500 million years ago. Freshwater green algae called charophytes began to evolve and move from the water to the land. Once on land, the newly evolved plants thrived and diversified. During the Middle Devonian Period (391-370 mya), early vascular plants begin to colonize the land. And by the end of the Devonian, forests of primitive plants like ferns and lycopods, flourished. The rapid appearance of new plant forms during the Devonian is often called the “Devonian Explosion.”
The first seed plants begin to
develop during the Late Devonian Period (385-360 mya). And by the Early Jurassic Period (200-175 mya) vast forests of gymnosperms, or plants that
generally bear seeds in cones like cycads, conifers, and ginkos, dominated
the landscape. By the Paleocene (65-54 mya) angiosperms, or flowering
plants, began to increase in diversity as gymnosperms began to decline.
Angiosperms continue to dominate our landscape today with over 250,000
living species distributed throughout the world.