The Glossopteridales arose around the beginning of the Permian on the great southern continent of Gondwana. These plants went on to become the dominant elements of the southern flora through the rest of the Permian but disappeared in almost all places at the end of the Permian.
Glossopteris was a woody, seed-bearing shrub or tree, some apparently reaching 30 m tall. Instead of needles, they had large, broad lance- or tongue-shaped leaves that fell to the ground at the end of summer. The fossil leaves are commonly found as dense accumulations representing autumnal leaf banks. The fossilised tree rings in the Glossopteris trees reveal that they grew steadily each spring-summer and abruptly stopped for winter.