We hear a lot about the growing list of extinct animals, but plants do also go extinct. Currently, more than 1,100 trees are listed as critically endangered. But many other trees have gone extinct for reasons not caused by humans. Among the most interesting trees to ever live is the Sigillaria. Here are 7 facts about Sigillaria.
Sigillaria is an extinct tree
If you go out into the woods today, you won’t see any Sigillaria growing wild. Fossil records indicate that Sigillaria evolved during the Late Carboniferous period, but eventually went extinct during the Permian period. In total, the tree existed for around 100 million years, but went extinct around 383 million years ago.
Sigillaria had scales, not bark
Perhaps one of the strangest things about Sigillaria was its bark. Instead of having bark like today’s trees, the Sigillaria was protected by a series of diamond-shaped scales. The tree’s base was not comprised of wood like today’s trees, but densely packed leaf bases.
Sigillaria grew very tall
For an ancient plant that wasn’t made of wood, Sigillaria grew to be pretty tall. In total, Sigillaria could grow to 30 meters, or just shy of 100 feet. Sigillaria reached its full height fairly rapidly.
Sigillaria grew fast
Ancient lycopods had a tendency to grow quickly and live short lifespans. Sigillaria was no exception. They reached their maturity in as little as just a few years. Some scientists believe that Sigillaria died after it reproduced, but currently, that is only a theory. There is no supporting science.
Sigillaria had grass-like leaves
If you traveled back in time and saw a Sigillaria, you might think it somewhat resembles a palm tree. Sigillaria had long, slender grass-like leaves that grew from a fork at the top of the tree. These leaves attached directly to the stem of the tree. Sigillaria did not grow branches like today’s trees do.
Sigillaria reproduced with spores
Most of today’s trees reproduce by creating seeds, but Sigillaria did things a little differently. Instead of producing seeds, Sigillaria reproduced by creating spores. It would grow structures that slightly resembled today’s pinecones that attached to the trunk of the tree. These cones would open and disperse the spores.
Sigillaria was related to today’s club mosses
Sigillaria was related to plants falling into the Division Lycopodiophyta. Plants belonging to Lycopodiophyta reproduce by spores, just like the Sigillaria did. There are more than 1,290 species that still live today that belong to this classification.