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Sigillaria is a genus of extinct tree-like plant that lived from the Late Carboniferous period to the early Permian. Sigillaria was tall (up to 40 m) and terminated in a forked trunk that supported grass-like, microphyllous leaves. The leaves were long and thin (varied in breadth from 2-4 mm) and were characterized by a broad median keel.

The trunk was covered in a scaly outer layer of densely packed layers of leaf bases and a center composed of pith (soft spongy cells that store and transport nutrients). The leaf bases left a diamond-shaped pattern and are readily seen in fossils of the plant. The trunk is thought to have had a photosynthetic tissue on the surface and was most likely green in coloration.

The plant possessed cone-like reproductive structures on their stems that contained spores, rather than seeds. Like other ancient lycopods, it is known that Sigillaria had a relatively short life cycle (10 - 15 years) and grew quickly. Some researchers have suggested that this life cycle may indicate that Sigillaria may have died shortly after reproduction (monocarpic). However, there is no direct evidence of this.

Sigillaria remains are often found in Carboniferous coal swamps, with lepidodendrons (scale trees).

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© Joseph Villari

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