Here’s a recent xkcd strip called “Magic tree”, which has an evolutionary twist:
When you “mouse over” the strip, you see this:
In other words, artist Randall Munroe is giving a humorous example of “convergent evolution,” in which those trees that most closely resemble cellphone towers are those that leave their genes. This form of evolution would, over time, produce trees that resemble those towers. This example is bogus, of course, because a tree generation lasts a long time—longer than cellphone towers have been around. But if you want to read about real examples of convergent evolution, try the Wikipedia article or Eric Pianka’s nice essay at the University of Texas zoology website.
In WEIT I briefly discuss convergent evolution, giving the famous example of convergence between species of placental mammals and marsupials in Australia. I also give an example from plants: the strong resemblance between cacti in the New World and euphorbs in the old.
But there are also examples in which non-treelike plants have, similar to the example above, evolved to resemble trees. I’ll leave readers to hunt for those, but put your answers in the comments below.
h/t: Steve, John