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
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
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.