Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • News & Views
  • Published:


In the shade of the oldest forest

The uncovering of a large soil surface preserved under sediment for 390 million years has exposed plant remains which show that the world's earliest forests were much more complex than previously thought. See Letter p.78

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Plant complexity in ancient forests.


  1. Stein, W. E., Berry, C. M., Hernick, L. V. & Mannolini, F. Nature 483, 78–81 (2012).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Goldring, W. NY State Mus. Bull. 251, 50–72 (1924).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Stein, W. E., Mannolini, F., Hernick, L. V., Landing, E. & Berry, C. M. Nature 446, 904–907 (2007).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Beentje, H. The Kew Plant Glossary (Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, 2010).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Hotton, C. L., Hueber, F. M., Griffing, D. H. & Bridge, J. S. in Plants Invade the Land (eds Gensel, P. & Edwards, D.) 179–212 (Columbia Univ. Press, 2001).

    Google Scholar 

  6. Cressler, W. L. III in Wetlands Through Time (eds Greb, S. & DiMichele, W.) 79–102 (Geol. Soc. Am. Spec. Pap., 2006).

    Google Scholar 

  7. Algeo, T. J. & Scheckler, S. E. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 353, 113–130 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Speck, T. & Rowe, N. P. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 358, 1473–1485 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Meyer-Berthaud, B., Soria, A. & Decombeix A.-L. in The Terrestrialization Process (eds Vecoli, M., Clement, G. & Meyer-Berthaud, B.) 59–70 (Geol. Soc. Lond., 2010).

    Google Scholar 

  10. Gerrienne, P. et al. Science 333, 837 (2011).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Grime, J. P. Am. Nat. 111, 1169–1194 (1977).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Brigitte Meyer-Berthaud or Anne-Laure Decombeix.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Meyer-Berthaud, B., Decombeix, AL. In the shade of the oldest forest. Nature 483, 41–42 (2012).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing