Pteridopsida: Fossil Record

The ferns are an ancient lineage of plants, dating back to at least the Middle Devonian. They include four living groups: Marattiales, Ophioglossales, Psilotales and leptosporangiate ferns. There are also some early groups that are now extinct, including the Stauropteridales and Zygopteridales. The chart below shows the stratigraphic ranges over which each group is known to have existed. The green taxa on the right side of the chart are groups of ferns; the blue taxa to the left are sphenophytes; and the purple Cladoxylopsida in the center are a closely related group.

Of all living ferns, only the Psilotales has no fossil record.

Read more about fossil ferns at the Virtual Paleobotanical Lab.