Investigation of the primary cell walls of lower plants improves our understanding of the cell biology of these organisms but also has the potential to improve our understanding of cell wall structure and function in angiosperms that evolved from lower plants. Cell walls were prepared from eight species, ranging from a moss to advanced gymnosperms, and subjected to sequential chemical extraction to separate the main polysaccharide fractions. The glycosyl compositions of these fractions were then determined by gas chromatography. The results were compared among the eight plants and among data from related studies reported in the existing published reports to identify structural features that have been either highly conserved or clearly modified during evolution. Among the highly conserved features are the presence of a cellulose framework, the presence of certain hemicelluloses such as xyloglucan, and the presence of rhamnogalacturonan II, a domain in pectic polysaccharides. Among the modified features are the abundance of mannosyl-containing hemicelluloses and the presence of methylated sugars.