Just like animals, plants also go extinct. In fact, plant extinction rates are estimated to be at least twice as high as animal extinction rates. This is due to the fact that plants are more vulnerable to habitat loss and changes in climate.
But as I'm sure we all know, once a living species goes extinct, it's gone forever. Only in extremely rare cases have extinct species been disproven (Animal Planet's Forrest Galante knows a thing or two about that).
That said, if you ever see an extinct plant or animal in the wild, it can be pretty alarming. You might ask yourself questions like "Is this real?" or "Am I imagining this?"
On TikTok, users have been claiming that there have been recent sightings of one particular extinct tree species. And apparently, if you spot this long-vanished tree, then the progression of time has allegedly stopped. But are these sightings even real? Keep scrolling as we discuss the genus of Lepidodendron.
What is a Lepidodendron tree?
Lepidodendron, also known as the "scale tree," was a massive extinct tree that lived in the Carboniferous Period (aka the Age of Amphibians), about 359 million years ago, according to the University of Waterloo. These vascular and absorbent trees lived in the wettest parts of the prehistoric coal swamps.
They could grow to be over 180 feet tall, with trunks that were at least six feet wide. In other words, they were humongous. Averaging a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, these trees died out by the end of the Mesozoic era.
The Lepidodendron tree meme was born in 2021.
In August 2021, a meme related to the Lepidodendron tree was posted on iFunny.
It showed a drawing of a Lepidodendron tree with a message alongside it.
The message read, "Attention: Have you seen this tree? Hopefully, you have not, as this is a Lepidodendron and it is extinct. If you are fact seeing this tree, you have fallen into some sort of rip in the fabric of time. Remain calm."
It didn't provide any other information on what you should do if you spot a Lepidodendron tree. Nor was any reputable scientific evidence sourced. TikTokers have their own theories and sightings though.
TikTok users are claiming they've spotted the Lepidodendron tree in new trend — but they seem to just be trolling.
While the meme warning folks of the Lepidodendron has been circulating the internet since 2021, it wasn't until late 2023 that TikTok users started filming their alleged sightings of the tree. In many of their videos, they even include the meme.
However, most users clearly appear to be trolling as they are showing palm trees or just tall trees. We know this because it's easy to tell if someone is teasing. Lepidodendron trees are usually at least 180 feet in height and the trees in these videos are significantly shorter.
Some users have really been flexing their funny bones in these videos. This user claimed a street light post was the Lepidodendron tree. We have to give them props for creativity.
Others have been creating videos where their friends are asking them where they are and they show themselves near a Lepidodendron tree, meaning that they have entered a "rip in the fabric of time," which is why they're late.
Bottom line: The Lepidodendron tree has been extinct for hundreds of millions of years. Even if you think somehow that you spotted the tree, you're not seeing it.