The terrestrial vegetation is unambiguously an important factor in the climate system, modulating the exchange of energy, momentum, water vapor, and other trace gases between land and atmosphere. Here, we review the evolution of the terrestrial flora from the Proterozoic through to the Neogene at three distinct scales—the overall evolution of floral composition, the evolution of plant physiology, and the evolution of landscape occupation both spatially and seasonally—all in the context of how the vegetation may have influenced climate through time and which deep-time evolutionary transitions may have had the greatest effect. Our focus is upon the direct impacts of the vegetation on temperature and precipitation, but we also consider the indirect impacts of plants on climate via atmospheric composition. We argue that the times of greatest change in plant climate feedbacks are likely to have been the Carboniferous and the early Paleogene.


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