The following is a simple tabular summary of some of the key events in the evolution of plants. This table is based on Willis & McElwain (2002), Fig. 1.1., p.4.

Era Period Period Epoch Age (×106 years) Events
Cenozoic Quaternary Neogene Holocene    
Pleistocene 1.8
Tertiary Pliocene 5.3 The angiosperms (flowering plants) dominate the landscape.
Miocene 23.8
Palaeogene Oligocene 33.7  
Eocene 54.8  
Palaeocene 65 Angiosperms rise as the gymnosperms decline. Period of massive extinctions.
Mesozoic Cretaceous late   The gymnosperms are dominant, and the last of the seed ferns become extinct.
early 144  
Jurassic late The gymnosperms begin to dominate the land as the seed ferns begin to decline.
middle    
early 206  
Triassic late   The seed ferns begin their rapid decline
middle    
early 248
Palaeozoic Permian late    
early 290 Great Coal Forests. The beginning of the evolution of ferns, seed ferns, horsetails and gymnosperms. Lycopods common.
Carboniferous late 323  
early 354 Expansion of primitive vascular plants. Liverworts develop. First seed plants develop towards the end of this epoch.
Devonian late    
middle   The early vascular plants colonise the land for the first time. Representatives include the rhyniaphyta.
early 417  
Silurian late    
early 443 Marine algae are abundant.
Ordovician late    
early 490  
Cambrian late   Primitive marine algae develop.
middle    
early 543 Protists and prokaryotes develop.
Precambrian 4600 Formation/Creation of the solar system and Earth