These six groups were the dominant types throughout the period, but during Upper Carboniferous time three other groups arose, the Coniferales, the Cycadophyta, and the Ginkgoales (of which Ginkgo biloba is the only modern representative).
The pollen-grains when mature consist of three cells, two small and one large cell; the latter grows into the pollen-tube, as in the Coniferales, and from one of the small cells two large ciliated spermatozoids are eventually produced.
The discovery by the Japanese botanist 'Erase of the development of ciliated spermatozoids in the pollen-tube of Ginkgo, in place of the non-motile male cells of typical conifers, served as a cogent argument in favour of separating the genus from the Coniferales and placing it in a class of its own.
In order to avoid confusion in the use of the term Coniferae, we may adopt as a class-designation the name Coniferales, including both the Coniferae - using the term in a restricted sense - and the Taxaceae.
The most striking characteristic of the majority of the Coniferales is the regular manner of the monopodial branching and the pyramidal shape.