Cloth $125.00 ISBN: 9780226069630 Published October 2014
Paper $45.00 ISBN: 9780226069777 Published September 2014
E-book $7.00 to $36.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226069807 Published October 2014

How the Earth Turned Green

A Brief 3.8-Billion-Year History of Plants

Joseph E. Armstrong

Joseph E. Armstrong

576 pages | 121 halftones, 31 line drawings, 4 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Cloth $125.00 ISBN: 9780226069630 Published October 2014
Paper $45.00 ISBN: 9780226069777 Published September 2014
E-book $7.00 to $36.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226069807 Published October 2014
On this blue planet, long before pterodactyls took to the skies and tyrannosaurs prowled the continents, tiny green organisms populated the ancient oceans. Fossil and phylogenetic evidence suggests that chlorophyll, the green pigment responsible for coloring these organisms, has been in existence for some 85% of Earth’s long history—that is, for roughly 3.5 billion years. In How the Earth Turned Green, Joseph E. Armstrong traces the history of these verdant organisms, which many would call plants, from their ancient beginnings to the diversity of green life that inhabits the Earth today.

Using an evolutionary framework, How the Earth Turned Green addresses questions such as: Should all green organisms be considered plants? Why do these organisms look the way they do? How are they related to one another and to other chlorophyll-free organisms? How do they reproduce? How have they changed and diversified over time? And how has the presence of green organisms changed the Earth’s ecosystems? More engaging than a traditional textbook and displaying an astonishing breadth, How the Earth Turned Green will both delight and enlighten embryonic botanists and any student interested in the evolutionary history of plants.
J. Valauskas, Curator of Rare Books, Library, Chicago Botanic Garden | Current Books on Gardening and Botany
“Armstrong . . . aims his book squarely at plant-blind readers, who see plants as just a green background to life. . . . [He] deftly entertains his readers with a balanced discussion of plant life on Earth, from cyanobacteria and stromatolites to flowering plants. . . . How the Earth Turned Green will make many a reader aware of the importance of plants to the history of this planet.”
San Francisco Book Review
“An intriguing compilation of developmental stages set in reverse order. This approach is vastly appealing, giving us subtle clues of how the Earth blossomed into such an incredible world that most of us simply take for granted. . . . With dozens of diagrams, illustrations and graphic constructs and charts, Armstrong gives us a glimpse of how it all evolved and how it all works together.”
Karl J. Niklas, Cornell University | coauthor of “Plant Physics”
“Armstrong has opened a door to the sprawling majesty of plant biology and evolution in a way that informs without drudgery, infuses knowledge with example without pedantry, and lightens the heart with a fine sense of humor. This book should be read by anyone who can sense that the world around us is predominantly green.”
David Lee, Florida International University | author of "Nature’s Palette: The Science of Plant Color"
“Practicing or apprenticing botanists, plant biologists, agronomists, and horticulturists need a detailed understanding of the evolution of plants for a correct perspective on the organisms they study and use, but the current general textbooks provide an inadequate watered-down history. In How the Earth Turned Green, through the knowledge, skill, and friendly writing of Armstrong and the wisdom of the University of Chicago Press, we finally have a book to fill this gap. Its eleven chapters—the final two about the flowering plants—tell the whole story, backed up by a detailed and illustrated appendix on fossil and living ancestors going back to the green algae and cyanobacteria. An essential book for plant students and professionals.”

Preface: A Botanist at Large

1: A Green World

2: Small Green Beginnings

3: Cellular Collaborations

4: A Big Blue Marble

5: Down by the Sea (-weeds)

6: The Great Invasion

7: The Pioneer Spirit

8: Back to the Devonian

9: Seeds to Success

10: A Cretaceous Takeover

11: All Flesh Is Grass



Brown Algae and Tribophyceans

Clubmosses and Fossil Stem Groups

Conifers and Ginkgoes

Coniferophytes: Cordaitales and Voltziales




Green Algae

Green Bacteria






Red Algae

Rhyniophytes and Trimerophytes

Seed Ferns

Whisk Ferns





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