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Reconstruction of some Lepidodendrons
Vital statistics
Scientific Name Lepidodendron
Height 30-50 metres
Period Carboniferous
Range Worldwide

Lepidodendron ("scale tree") was a tree-like plant related to modern lycopsids that existed in the Carboniferous period.


Lepidodendron bark. Note the scale-like pattern present on the surface.

Lepidodendron was a large plant, reaching heights in excess of 30 meters. The trunks often measured a meter or more in diameter, and rarely branched.[1] Lepidodendron bark resembled scales, giving the plant its name, and it was often mistaken for petrified reptile skin in the 19th century.[2] All of the foliage was concentrated at the top of the plant, and the leaves were long and thin.


Instead of being a true club moss as often cited, Lepidodendron was actually more closely related to today's quillworts. About 150 species exist today.[3]


Lepidodendron did not produce true seeds; rather, they reproduced by means of spores. Plants grew quickly, and on average they lived for 10 to 15 years.[4]


  1. "Plant fossils of the British Coal Measures" by Christopher J.Cleal and Barry A.Thomas, publ. The Palaeontological Association, London, 1994, 222 pages, ISBN 0-901702-53-6.
  2. Davis, Paul; Kenrick, Paul (2004). Fossil Plants. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Books. ISBN 1-58834-181-X.
  3. Taylor, W. Carl; Neil T. Luebke; Donald M. Britton; R. James Hickey; & Daniel F. Brunton (1993). "Isoëtaceae". Flora of North America. 2. Oxford University Press. p. 64.
  4. Morran, Robin C. (2004). A Natural History of Ferns. Portland: Timber Press. ISBN 0-88192-667-1.