We inferred a phylogeny for the walking–stick genus Timema (Insecta: Phasmatoptera) using mitochondrial DNA sequence, and we used the phylogeny to infer temporal patterns of speciation and the evolutionary history of parthenogenesis. Maximum parsimony, neighbour–joining and maximum–likelihood analyses of 660 base pairs (bp) of cytochrome oxidase I (COI) yielded phylogenies that were well resolved and topologically identical or very similar. Application of an insect molecular clock for COI suggests that the genus originated in southern California, northern Mexico or Arizona about 20 million years ago and underwent a burst of speciation 1.5 to 3 million years ago during the uplifts of the Sierra Nevada, Coast, and Transverse Ranges. The phylogeny indicates that the three parthenogenetic lineages of Timema have arisen independently and are each closely related to morphologically indistinguishable or similar sexual species. Each of the three lineages exhibits an allopatric or parapatric, and more northerly, distribution with regard to their closest sexual relative. COI divergence levels between each of the three parthenogens and their closest sexual relative suggest ancient origins of parthenogenesis, 1.5 to 3 million years ago, that may coincide with the extensive glaciation that formed the North American ice sheets.