Lepidodendron & Sigillaria Scale Trees

Lepidodendron Petrified Tree Root Fossil

The fossil above is a section from the root of a large sized, 100 foot (30 meter) Lycopod tree which originated over 400 million years ago. It contains deeply pitted circular patterns, but its trunk differed having deeply grooved diamond patterns. It’s a very dense, heavy fossil of petrified wood. Petrified wood materializes when plant matter is buried by sediment and protected from decay caused by oxygen and organisms. Then, groundwater rich in dissolved solids flows through the sediments, replacing the original plant material with silica, calcite, pyrite, iron or another inorganic material such as opal. This was a common occurrence in the coal swamp forests of the Carboniferous Period from about 360 to 300 million years ago during the late Paleozoic Era.

Sigillaria & Lepidodendron Tree Leave Fossils

The fossil above are leaf imprints of these giant Lycopod trees such as Sigillaria and Lepidodendron cast in coal shale. The trunks of Lycopods were topped with plumes of these long thin, grass-like leaves which were often arranged like that of a bottle brush. The trees had relatively short life-cycles growing rapidly reaching heights sometimes up to 130 feet (40 meters). Lycopod forests of plenty generated tremendous amounts of decaying peat. After millions of years, it became coal buried deeply in the ground, later, fueling the Industrial Revolution. More importantly, their decaying matter helped revolutionize Earth’s emerging forests by creating soil for trees to develop deeper root systems. This enabled new tree varieties to spread further inland without relying solely on wet swampy habitats.

Lepidodendron Scale Tree Rendition Drawing
Sigillaria Scale Trees Rendition Drawing


Botanical Names:  Sigillaria and Lepidodendron

Common Name: Scale Tree 

Kingdom: Plantae

Division: Lycopod-iophyta (oldest vascular plant group, reproduced by releasing spores)

Class: Isoetopsida (plants with hollow quill-like leaves spirally arranged on a single, unbranched vein) ie quillworts, scale trees, spike moss)

Order: Lepidondrales (primitive vascular tree-like plants related to lycopods which are loosely grouped with ferns)

Family: Lepidodencraceae (has arrangement of spores on cones born on the shoots)

Genera:  Sigillaria (possess deep lace pattern on trunk with bottle brush crown of leaves)

Genera: Lepidodendron (possess deep diamond pattern on trunk with plume of grassy leaves on crown. Roots lack diamond pattern.