Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

When trees began

Posted: April 10, 2012 at 06:43 am Author: Westonbirt's learning and participation team

This Easter, Westonbirt’s learning and participation team have created two great family events, with an Easter Challenge (3 – 6 April) and an exploration of Jurassic Plants (10 – 12 April) on offer for families. Trails amongst the trees and craft activities make this the perfect spring day out – here’s a taste of some of the amazing tree facts you’ll find on the trails!

Imagine a world without trees!


This was the Devonian era, a time 150 million years before the dinosaurs, a time when there were only two continents with North America and Europe joined as one land mass.

All of the land was situated near the equator so the climate was much warmer and plants flourished. Some of the plants of this time would have been algae, ferns, mosses, and horsetails.

You need to go back just over 360 million years to see the first plants that produced seed. Some of these then went on to develop into the trees we recognise today. These first trees were gymnosperms, meaning ‘naked seeds’, and included, amongst others, the conifers and ginkgos.

The oldest conifer fossil dates from 310 million years ago (Carboniferous) and they spread out across the planet during Triassic times. The eight conifer families which still exist today all appear in the fossil record from this time.

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