These often very unusual plants are from ancient plant families believed to be relatives of cycads, conifers and ginkgoes. The gnetophyta are comprised of three basic types of gymnosperms:Gnetum: A genus of tropical plants with highly variable morphologies, some trees and some vines.
Welwitschia: The genus is comprised of single desert species, an untidy-looking plant which is essential a form of foliage growing like creepers. The growth pattern based on extensions of dicots, a type of shoot. This gives the plant a low vertical profile and protection from hot winds.
Ephedra: The species from which ephedrine is derived. There are about 50 separate species in this genus. These are shrubs, usually growing naturally in dry climates on all continents except Australia.
Examples of Gnetophyta: