Flowering plants represent the most significant branch in the tree of land plants, with respect to the number of extant species, their impact on the shaping of modern ecosystems and their economic importance. However, unlike so many persistent phylogenetic problems that have yielded to insights from DNA sequence data, the mystery surrounding the origin of angiosperms has deepened with the advent and advance of molecular systematics. Strong statistical support for competing hypotheses and recent novel trees from molecular data suggest that the accuracy of current molecular trees requires further testing. Analyses of phytochrome amino acids using a duplicate gene-rooting approach yield trees that unite cycads and angiosperms in a clade that is sister to a clade in which Gingko and Cupressophyta are successive sister taxa to gnetophytes plus Pinaceae. Application of a cycads + angiosperms backbone constraint in analyses of a morphological dataset yields better resolved trees than do analyses in which extant gymnosperms are forced to be monophyletic. The results have implications both for our assessment of uncertainty in trees from sequence data and for our use of molecular constraints as a way to integrate insights from morphological and molecular evidence.