By Steven L. Stephenson
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Additional info for A Natural History of the Central Appalachians
Both these tree-sized plants had relatives that were part of the ground cover in the coal swamp forests of the Carboniferous. The sphenophylls belonged to the same taxonomic group as Calamites but were herbaceous and had broad, wedge-shaped leaves. Some examples appear to have been vine-like. Apparently less common were herbaceous lycopsids that closely resembled certain modern species of clubmosses. 35 FIGURE 13 Fossil of a seed fern of Carboniferous age collected in West Virginia up to twenty feet.
Members of a second group of treelike plants found in coal swamp forests were among the most distinctive plants that have ever grown. These were the Calamites, which are closely related to the horsetails or scouring rushes (both common names apply to members of the modern genus Equisetum) that can still be found in the Central Appalachians. The most widely known tree-sized calamite was Calamites. Calamites was smaller than Lepidodendron and probably reached a height of no more than about thirty feet.
In chapter 3 the overall pattern of present-day forest vegetation in the Central Appalachians will be described. indd 37 coal swamp forests, the landscape of the region during the late Carboniferous would have consisted of a mosaic of forest types. Although the region was generally flat, with meandering rivers and shallow lakes, there would also have been a scattering of small elevated areas (hummocks) and even hills. Had it been possible to observe this landscape from above, a pattern would have been apparent.