Plant Classification

Evolutionary Ordering of Plant Groups

A cladogram of the evolutionary relationships of land plants (embryophytes) and possible origination during geologic time. The phylogenetic relationships are based upon studies that incorporate fossil taxa, which may give different results than purely molecular cladistics. The thick-labeled bars indicate evidence for macrofossils of each group during geologic time. 

Below you will find the evolutionary or phylogenetic groupings of land plant groups, based upon current research. Click on a group to learn about their characteristics, time range, and evolutionary significance. 

End-point groups with living representatives are in bold
= extinct; 
* diverts to Plant Diversity website

Red algae *  ├Green algae
      Bryophytes *
        Liverworts *
        Mosses *
        Hornworts *

        Aglaophyton major
                Sawdoniales †
                Club-mosses *
                Spike-mosses *
                Quillworts *
                Pseudoborniales †
                  Horsetails *
                Stauropteridales †
                Rhacophytales †
                Whisk ferns *
                Ophioglossalean ferns *
                Marattialean ferns 
                True ferns *
                  Basal seed plants †
                  Buteoxylonales †
                  Callistophytales †
                  Cycads *
                  Vojnovskyales †
                    Conifers *
                    Gnetophytes *
                  └? Anthophyte clade
                    Glossopteridales †
                    Benettitales †