DATABASE: Trees Before Time

Science  05 Nov 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5698, pp. 951
DOI: 10.1126/science.306.5698.951c

The flowering plants claim most of the beauty prizes, but the gymnosperms—the group that includes pines, firs, cycads, and the ginkgo— get the award for persistence. Gymnosperms were standing tall more than 100 million years before the first flower blossomed. This database from Christopher Earle, a consulting ecologist in the Seattle, Washington, area, offers an up-to-date synopsis of the group's taxonomy. The species accounts cover more than 500 modern kinds of gymnosperms, from Welwitschia mirabilis, a droopy-leafed African desert dweller that might live for more than 500 years, to the stately Douglas fir of western North America (Pseudotsuga menziesii), one of the world's largest trees.∼earlecj

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