Tree of Life


Q & A



Healthy Home Gardening
Kingdom of Plants Diagram
With branches terminating into all of the Orders of Plants.

Plant Kingdom Diagram 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 in flux.

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 around.

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.

Plant Order and Family Classification List


Below is a phylogenetic progression from Eukaryotes to Sunflowers.

This diagram can be found on every plant page on the site.

What's This?

Star Order (Daisies)
Euasterids II
Euasterids II
Real Stars Group Two
Class of Stars (Daisies)
Core Eudicots
Core Eudicots
Main, Real, Two First-Leaves (Dicots)
Real, Two First-Leaves (Dicots)
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnolia Division
Seed Plants
Real Land Plants
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
Multicellular Land Plants
Multicellular Plants
Cells with a Nucleus
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 still works.
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 above them.
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 each.
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 stopped working?"
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 environment.
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.

Phylogenetic Tree of Life

Learn how to create a custom
Tree of Life


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