Conifers are gymnosperms, bearing their seeds in cones rather than in flowers. Today over 600 species of conifers exist on earth. These plants and their ancestors have been around since the Carboniferous. This scratchpad is meant to be a platform for discussion around the phylogenetic tree of the early conifers, i. e. the conifers and related plants that lived from the Carboniferous till the Triassic. Unlike living plants, which have DNA, fossil taxa, especially when no direct living relations are present, can only be compared with each other based on morphological characters.
The set of characters used for the clustering of the early conifers is based on a long history of careful character analysis. This history of systematic descriptions allowed for character coding and has become increasingly standardized. This standardization is extremely helpful to retrieve, analyze, and compare the complex information contained in the both heterogenic conserved and described fossil plant species. For the early conifers an extensive set of characters was first introduced by Rothwell et al. (2005). In this scratchpad we discuss the different characters and their role in the clustering of fossil taxa, and also try to build a list of taxa combined with this standardized list of characters.