There are no recent stems with a structure quite like that of Sphenophyllum; so far as the primary structure is concerned, the nearest approach is among the Psiloteae, with which other characters indicate some affinity; the base of the stem in Psilotum forms some secondary wood.
- The two genera Psilotum and Tmesipteris, which are provisionally isolated in this group, have usually been classed with the Lycopodiales.
In both Psilotum and Tmesipteris the functions of the root-system, which is completely absent, are performed by leafless rhizomes bearing absorbent hairs and inhabited by an endophytic fungus.
Psilotum lives epiphytically or in soil rich in humus, while Tmesipteris is epiphytic (and, it has been suggested, partially parasitic) upon stems of tree ferns: the former has small scale-like leaves; those of the latter are of considerable size.
The careful study of the development of the synangium of Tmesipteris, which consists of two loculi, and of Psilotum, which consists of three, has shown that their structure can be explained as originating by the septation of a single sporangium resembling that of Lycopodium.