The advent of wood (secondary xylem) is a major event of the Paleozoic Era, facilitating the evolution of large perennial plants. The first steps of wood evolution are unknown. We describe two small Early Devonian (407 to 397 million years ago) plants with secondary xylem including simple rays. Their wood currently represents the earliest evidence of secondary growth in plants. The small size of the plants and the presence of thick-walled cortical cells confirm that wood early evolution was driven by hydraulic constraints rather than by the necessity of mechanical support for increasing height. The plants described here are most probably precursors of lignophytes.