The Palaeozoic types are barely represented; the arborescent Vascular Cryptogams have been replaced by Cycads, Ginkgoales and Conifers as the dominant classes, while Ferns continue to hold their own.
The Cordaitales (see Palaeobotany: Palaeozoic) are represented by extinct forms only, which occupied a prominent position in the Palaeozoic period; these plants exhibit certain features in common with the living Araucarias, and others which invite a comparison with the maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba), the solitary survivor of another class of Gymnosperms, the Ginkgoales (see Palaeobotany: Mesozoic).
These six groups were the dominant types throughout the period, but during Upper Carboniferous time three other groups arose, the Coniferales, the Cycadophyta, and the Ginkgoales (of which Ginkgo biloba is the only modern representative).
Representatives of the Ginkgoales constitute characteristic members of the later Triassic floras, and these, with other types, carry us on without any break in continuity to the Rhaetic floras of Scania, Germany, Asia, Chile, Tonkin and Honduras (Map A, VIII.), and to the Jurassic and Wealden floras of many regions in both the north and south hemispheres.
Gl - G17, Distribution of the Ginkgoales during the Mesozoic and Tertiary Periods.
In Rhaetic, Jurassic and Wealden floras, the Ginkgoales were exceedingly abundant (Map B, G i -G 17); in addition to A, Ginkgodium, Japan (Jurassic).
The regions from which satisfactory examples of Ginkgoales (Baiera or Ginkgo) have been recorded are shown in Map B (G1-G17).
Through the succeeding ages the Ginkgoales were represented by numerous forms, which gradually became more restricted in their distribution and fewer in number during the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods, terminating at the present day in one solitary survivor.