Kingdom of Plants Diagram
With branches terminating into all of the Orders of Plants.
This DNA-based phylogenetic tree shows the slow construction of
modern plants from eukaryotic cells to mosses, to ferns, and on
up to higher plants like roses and asters, with every extant plant
represented in between. It is based on the newest genome research,
but may change, as some of the "lower branches" are still
The roots of the diagram represent single celled eukaryotes which
date back 1.5 Billion years ago.
The root is an artistic representation of a tree, the actual "root"
would be a single line leading from a single eukaryotic cell.
Time is represented as you move away from the bottom center of the
tree, up to the tips of the branches. Each tip represents a plant
"Order". Each Order contains families, some Orders contain
more than others.
Click on an "Order" near the tips of it's branches to
open a page showing all the plant families in that "Order".
You may notice that all Orders end in "ales". This way
you can know it's an Order just by looking at the name. These are
the same names used in every country.
As you move up the tree, you can see how one advancement led to
another and so on.
To zoom in, click, the right mouse button and select "Zoom
In". Then drag with the left mouse button on the image to move
On the diagram, find the name of the Order next to the tips of the branches.
Click on the name of the Order next to the branch tip to go to a page
about that Order.
The root of the Tree is based on single celled,
and some very small multi-celled creatures with chloroplasts.
This would be better represented by a single root.
The next step up was the ability to live out
of water in damp environments.
The next step up was the vein, which enabled
transport of water, so that a creature could live in less
damp environments. Most mosses, liverworts and hornworts have
not evolved much further than this. Why? Because this system
The next step was the spore. This enabled the
species to disperse themselves farther. Ferns still use this
biotechnology, and are quite successful.
The next step was the seed. This enabled the
species to pass through unlivable times of the year, and even
disperse themselves farther. Pine Trees have this ability,
but they don't have any of the advancements of the plants
The next step was the beginning of the flower,which
enabled the plant to diversify it's genetics with plants that
were much farther away, the method of dispersal was mostly
wind (Grasses) and insects (Magnolias).
From the ancestors of the magnolias, came the
Dicots, which have (among many other things) a new type of
flower. This advantage came from it's ability to attract beetles
and ants. These insects would then transport pollen to other
plants of the same species. Over time, these insects also
"bred" the flowers into their various forms.
The Dicots flourished greatly with their new
partnership with insects. Two main branches branched away,
the Rosids (Roses), and the Asterids (Asters). Most plants
that we are familiar with are in one of these two branches.
The tips of the branches are each an Order of Plants.
An Order is a branch that then branches
off into individual Families. Usually between 1-16 families
A Family is a branch that branches off
into multiple Genera.
A Genus (singular for genera), then contains
the individual species.
One might ask:
"Why would a plant change it's form, if it's form never
Or to say it another way:
The ferns for example are very similar to ferns that were
alive before the dinosaurs. Most plants today came from plants
that were more like ferns. Why would we have all the plant
diversity, if ferns worked then, and never went extinct?
To answer, we'll start with a couple analogies;
Volkswagens and Lamborginis.
Why do Lamborginis exist if Volkswagens never stopped working?
America and England
Why is England still here if Americans came from England?
All environments have specific requirements to live in them.
The ocean requires you to swim and be able to stay underwater,
and to consume or utilize energy sources in that environment.
Think of all the diversity that meets this "Job Outline".
So, as each environment meets the next, there is a frontier,
or margin, that pushes life to change.
Here is a mind experiment:
Imagine a valley next to high cliffs. The cliffs have lots
of trees with fruit on them. The valley has many different
animals, but there is high competition for food, so many of
the animals die from starvation.
The margin of that area would be the base of the cliffs. The
Job Requirement would be "To be able to climb up and
down without falling". It might take many thousands of
years, but by any means possible, a species will fill that
opening. This newer species will still be very similar to
the other species, which will still be living below, as long
as there is enough food.
This same driving force can be found on the margins of any
Thus creating new species, while maintaining the other species,
who stays in the original environment.
A dandelion has no advantage over moss -- in the moss' environment.
But the dandelion can escape the moss' environent, and survive
in other areas that moss cannot, and the dandelion can survive
in more diverse environments than moss can.