This project grew from a love for all things green and a budding interest in old natural history illustrations.
The daily posts are loosely presented in phylogenetic order. That is, it begins with the broad groups that appear earliest in the fossil record and proceeds in order of relationships. To make things manageable, I’ve focused primarily on land plants, but make a brief foray into algae at the outset before moving on to their terrestrial cousins. Although most modern species evolved relatively recently, bryophytes are the oldest type of plant that we have unequivocal evidence for in the fossil record, followed by lycophytes, ferns, gymnosperms, and flowering plants. As we’ll see, however, these are only the plant lineages that have survived to the present. There are menagerie of mysterious and spectacular forms that winked into and out of existence long before the species we’re familiar with ever came to be.
I’ve attempted to align the number of plants highlighted in each group with their proportional diversity. Recent estimates indicate there are some 400,000 known species of land plants. Of these, flowering plants make up the bulk of diversity with 364,000, followed by bryophytes with 22,000, then ferns with 11,800, lycophytes with 1,200, and gymnosperms trailing in last place with around 1,000 species. By dint of diversity, flowering plants will receive the most focus, with the number of posts for gymnosperms and spore-bearing plants roughly proportional to the number of living species.
Sprinkled throughout are poems and quotes that capture the spirit of botanical inquiry and wonder.
You can find attribution and links to the artwork and poetry on the corresponding information page available here: https://jeraldpinson.com/400-plants-info/