The flowering plants (angiosperms), also known as Angiospermae Lindl. or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants. Angiosperms are seed-producing plants like the gymnosperms and can be distinguished from the gymnosperms by a series ofsynapomorphies (derived characteristics). These characteristics include flowers, endosperm within the seeds, and the production of fruitsthat contain the seeds. Etymologically, angiosperm means a plant that produces seeds within an enclosure; they are fruiting plants, although more commonly referred to as flowering plants.
The ancestors of flowering plants diverged from gymnosperms around 245–202 million years ago, and the first flowering plants known to exist are from 160 million years ago. They diversified enormously during the Lower Cretaceous and became widespread around 120 million years ago, but replaced conifers as the dominant trees only around 60–100 million years ago.