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prehistoric plants

Plants have been around since the beginning of life on Earth. Since then, many species have existed during many different periods. However, some plants survived through the deadly ice age and many mass extinction events that ended many different life forms on Earth.

These prehistoric plants are present today as living fossils which have gathered the interest of many historians and plant enthusiasts. And, today we’ll take a look at these amazing prehistoric plants that connect us to our past and give us a chance to appreciate the existence of life.

Prehistoric Plants

1. Ginkgo Trees

prehistoric plants

Ginkgo Bilbao are amazing prehistoric plants that are known for their unique fan-shaped leaves. These plants are also referred to as “living fossils” because they date back to 270 million years, long before any human walked on Earth. The female ginkgo also produces fruits that are edible but have an unbearable scent when broken. These prehistoric plants also saw a huge decline in their population but were protected by many Chinese monasteries. Ginkgo trees can grow up to 50 to 80 feet tall and 30 feet wide. Moreover, depending on your location these plants can be endangered so take caution if you encounter one.

2. Cycads

These prehistoric plants have been around for 300 million years and were a staple of the Mesozoic Era. Cycads look like a cross between ferns and palms. Also, be cautious coming across these plants as all their parts are poisonous and spikey. Furthermore, the palm-like leaves and thick trunks of these plants add a bold look to any garden setup. The rugged and deep-green foliage of these prehistoric plants makes them the ultimate survivor of the flora world.

3. Protea

prehistoric plants

These prehistoric plants have a vast variety of flowering plants that are found mainly in South Africa. Protea can be dated back to the supercontinent of Gondwana and has been around for more than 300 million years. The changes in the climate of South Africa shaped the evolution of these plants. Protea are famous among many plant lovers for their hardy nature and beautiful flowers. The name of these plants is taken from the Greek God Proteus who could transform into many forms. These plants are also pollinated by many birds and insects and are, therefore, a vital part of the ecosystem.

Also, see Dragonfly Attracting Plants.

4. Ferns

Ferns are one of the oldest groups of plants. These prehistoric plants can be dated back to around 360 million years. Some varieties of ferns have been around since before the arrival of the first flowering plants on Earth. Tree ferns have also been a part of the diet of many large herbivore dinosaurs. These large trees also helped in shaping the landscape of that time. Ferns are present in many varieties and are grown in many garden setups. These plants are famous for their long fronds of leaves that add greenery to any area they are planted.

5. Dutchman’s Pipe

prehistoric plants

Scientifically known as Aristolochia these flowering plants have been around since the Cretaceous period (142-65 million years ago). The flowers of these prehistoric plants were pollinated by insects just like today, especially, by bees. The bees get trapped inside the flowers and get covered with pollen before the plant lets them go. These plants were also used as medicines in Brazil but are now known to be poisonous. Dutchman’s pipe has more than 500 species that can be found in a variety of ecosystems.

6. Black Pepper

Black pepper is another group of prehistoric plants that have survived all this time and are part of our ecosystem even today. Many fossils of the pepper family can be dated back to 145-100 million years, which is way back than the Cretaceous period. After the extinction of dinosaurs, Earth witnessed many changes in its climate and ecosystem like the forming of The Amazon Rainforest and The Andes Mountains in South America, this also gave rise to many new varieties of pepper plants. The cultivation of black pepper can be traced back to 4,000 years in its native areas of The Western Ghats of India.

7. Gunnera

Gunnera are known for their sharp and large (4-foot wide) leaves. This trait of these prehistoric plants must have come in handy to repel many hungry dinosaurs 95 million years ago. These plants are native to Argentina and Southern Chile, however, they can’t tolerate freezing temperatures and thrive in tropical climates. Some species are also native to New Zealand. Gunnera has adapted to survive all these years and continues to thrive and play an important role in many ecosystems.

Preservation And Conservation Of Prehistoric Plants

The preservation and conservation of prehistoric plants are very important as they are an important part of the ecology of Earth and an equally important part of the history of life on this planet. Moreover, prehistoric plants also contribute to science as they provide insight into the history of ancient ecosystems and the evolution of life on Earth. Here are some steps that should be taken to protect these plants:

Habitat Protection

The first step in protecting prehistoric plants is preserving their natural habitat. These plants have survived for millions of years and faced many mass extinction events. But the primary threat they have today is human activities such as deforestation that is destroying the natural habitat of these and many other species.


The restoration of already endangered species is also important. This can involve controlled propagation of different species and reintroducing cultivated species to their natural habitat. With this, we can protect the endangered prehistoric plants and many other plant species.

Laws And Regulations

To protect and preserve the prehistoric plants there also should be laws and regulations imposed by the government to prevent the mishandling of these plants. Some international organizations such as CITES (Convention On International Trade In Endangered Species Of Wild Fauna And Flora) play an important role in regulating the multinational trade of endangered and rare species.


Prehistoric plants have been around forever and play a very important role in sustaining our ecology without us knowing. So, protecting and preserving these plants becomes very necessary. These plants hold our past and are a key to a healthy and green future. So, make sure to know more about these plants and spread the word to protect these timeless plants.

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