Notes on Fossil Plants

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A single carpel from the Pliocene of Tegelen, is assigned to Althaea, under the name Althaea crassicarpa Reid & Reid.


A leaf from the Lower Oligocene of Ethiopia is assigned to Cola [1].


Craigia is a living genus with one or two (the 2nd may be extinct) species in southern China. It was common in the Tertiary of western North America, Europe and Asia.

The European Craigia bronnii is known from flowers, fruits and pollen. The fruits were previously known as Pteleaecarpum bronnii, Pteleaecarpum europaeum, Ulmus bronnii Unger, and Ulmus europaea Bronn, and the flowers as Tilia gieskei. Leaves referred to Dombeyopsis lobata Unger may also belong to this species. Craigia bronnii is known from the Miocene of Greece, the Miocene and Oligocene of Germany, and the Oligocene of Hungary and the Czech Republic. [3]

Leaves assignable to Dombeyopsis lobata have also been placed in Dombeyopsis grandifolia Unger, Dombeyopsis sidaefolia Unger, Dombeyopsis tiliaefolia (A. Braun) Unger, Ficus dombeyopsis Unger, Ficus tiliaefolia (A. Braun) Heer, Cecropia europaea Ettingshausen, Cecropia heerii Ettingshausen and Sterculia dombeyopsis (Unger) Schimper [3].

Craigia oregonensis is recorded from the Lower Oligocene of Oregon, the Oligocene of Idaho, the Upper Eocene of Kazakhstan. The fruits were previously known as Pteleaecarpum oregonense.

Craigia hainanensis is recorded from the Eocene (Changchang Fm) of Hainan.

Additionally Craigia is recorded from the Palaeocene of western Kamchatka and southern Sakhalin, the Middle Eocene of Jilin (Manchuria), the Eocene Green River Fm of the Rocky Mountain region, the Late Eocene or early Oligocene of Spitzbergen, and the Late Miocene of Sikhote-Alin

Fossil partial fruits of Craigia have been misattributed to Tripterygium (Celastraceae) and fossil fruit valves to Ulmus (Ulmaceae) [2] and Koelreuteria (Sapindaceae).


Florissantia is an extinct malvaceous genus found in Eocene and Oligocene deposits in western North America, from Colorado to British Colunbia, to which is given the vernacular name of stone rose. Flowers, fruits and pollen are all found. Fossils of Florissantia were formerly placed in Porana (Convolvulaceae) and Holmskioldia (Verbenaceae). It is also found in the Miocene of Asia.

Four species are recognised; Florissantia speirii (Lesquereux) Manchester from the Oligocene of Oregon, Florissantia quilchenensis (Mathewes & Brooke) Manchester from the Middle Eocene of British Columbia and Washington, Florissantia ashwillii Manchester from the Middle Eocene to Early Oligocene of Oregon, on the basis of differences in perianth and anther morphology, and Florissantia sikhote-alinensis (Krysh.) Manchester, from the Miocene of the Sikhote-Alin in the Soviet Far East

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A wood specimen with the characteristics of Reevesia was described as the new species Reevesia japonoxyla by Terada amd Suzuki.

Fossil fruits of Reevesia are reported from the Lower Miocene of Bohemia, together with associated seeds (Saportaspermum) and foliage ("Ficus" truncata). Fossil fruits of Reevesia from the Upper Miocene of Poland are assigned to the species Reevesia hurnikii.

Saportaspermum occidentalis is found in the Oligocene of Oregon. I don't know whether this represents a Reevesia or some other plant.


The generic name Sezanella was introduced for flowers and fruits from the Eocene (Thanetian) travertine limestones of Sezanne in southern France. In the specimens the perianth of the flower is composed of 5 oval sepals, which are valvate in bud, and possess acute apices. Petals are apparently absent. The stamens and ovary are borne on an androgynophore. There are five elongated poricidally-dehiscent extrorse tetrasporangiate stamens, placed alternately to the sepals. The ovary is 5-loculate, the ovules have axile placentation, and are held horizontally in two rows. There is a single slender style with a capitate stigma. The fruit is a spherical capsule 1 to 2 cm in diameter. It is loculicidally dehiscent. Leaves recorded under the name of Pterospermites inaequifolius may belong to this species.

Two species are described from the Sezanne deposits - Sezanella major and Sezanella minor.

A similar (but presumably 7-loculate) fruit has been recorded from the Upper Cretaceous Magothy Fm of Maryland, under the name Carpolithus septloculus. This however is an elongated capsule, with at least a superficial resemblance to Fremontodendron.


See also Intratriporopollenites.

The limes or lindens, genus Tilia, have a pollen record extending as far back as the middle Palaeocene, and a macrofossil record dating from the Eocene. The earliest records are from western North America, which, oddly, is one of the two northern temperate deciduous forest regions (the other is the Himalayas) from which TIlia is absent. A considerable number of fossil species have been described, but although the inflorescence bracts of Tilia are distinctive, most fossil species of Tilia are described from other material, and not all those species are correctly assigned to this genus (e.g Tilia gieskei is Craigia bronnii). The fossil range of Tilia is more extensive than that of the living species; apart from western North America it is also found in high latitude localities such as Alaska, Beringia, Kamchataka, etc, where it was a member of the ArctoTertiary Flora, and it has also been recorded from Tibet.

Bracts similar to the living species Tilia endochyrsea, i.e. with the peduncle only fused to the extreme base of the bract, are widely distributed in the Tertiary of western North America (late Eocene to Miocene) and Europe (early Miocene to Pliocene). Bracts similar to the other modern species, i.e. with the peduncle fused to the basal third of the bract, are known from the middle and late Tertiary of Asia and from the Pliocene of Europe. A third type, with orbicular bracts, is shown by the fossil Tilia circularis.

Tilia speciosissima Knowlton, recorded from the Palaeocene Raton Fm for the southwestern USA, and Tilia weedii Knowlton, recorded from the Palaeocene, may not belong to Tilia [e]. The latter may be a synonym of Celtis aspera

Tilia pollen, unspecified as to species, is reported from the Oligocene of the southeastern USA.

Other published names include Tilia atavia, Tilia compacta, Tilia danei, Tilia inserata, Tilia irtyschensis or irtyshensis, Tilia megacarpa, Tilia miochinensis, Tilia nezhinoensis, Tilia ovoidea, Tilia pedunculata, Tilia praeparvifolia, Tilia praeplatyphyllos, Tilia preamurensis, Tilia pseudinstructa, Tilia vidali, and Tilia waltheri.


Material referred to Triumfetta is found in Eocene deposits in Yellowstone.


  1. Nichols and Fleming, Palynology and palynostratigraphy of Maastrichtian, Paleocene and Eocene strata in the Denver Basin, Colorado, Rocky Mountain Geology 37(2): 135-163 (2002)
  2. Kvacek et al, Early Miocene freshwater and swamp ecosystems of the Most Basin (northern Bohemia) with particular reference to the Bílina Mine section, J. Czech. Geol. Soc. 49(1-2): (2004)
  3. Kvacek, Early Miocene records of Craigia (Malvaceae s.l.) in the Most Basin, North Bohemia - whole plant approach, Journal of the Czech Geological Society 49(3/4): 161-171 (2004)
  4. Pan & Jacobs, The earliest record of the genus Cola (Malvaceae sensu lato: Sterculioideae) from the Late Oligocene (28–27 Ma) of Ethiopia and leaf characteristics within the genus, Plant Systematics and Evolution 283(3/4): 247-262 (2009)
  5. Kvacek Z., Manchester S.R. and Akhmetiev M.A., Review of the fossil history of Craigia (Malvaceae s.l.) in the Northern hemisphere basin on fruits and co-occuring foliage, Modern problem of Palaeofloristics, Palaeophytogeography and Phytostratigraphy. Materials of the International Palaeobotanical Conference. Vol. 1. M.: GEOS, 82-104 (2005).
  6. Manchester, S., Inflorescence bracts of fossil and extant Tilia in North America, Europe, and Asia: Patterns of Morphologic Divergence and Biogeographic History, Amer.J.Bot., 81(9): 1176-118 (1994)
  7. Noriyuki Ikeya, Hiromichi Hirano & Kenshiro Ogawasara, The database of Japanese fossil type specimens described during the 20th century (Part 2), Palaeontological Society of Japan Special Paper 40 (2002)


  1. H. W. Meyer and S. R. Manchester. The Oligocene Bridge Creek flora of the John Day Formation, Oregon. University of California Publications in Geological Sciences 141:1-195 (1997)
  2. D.I. Axelrod, The Oligocene Haynes Creek Flora of Eastern Idaho, University of California Publications in Geological Sciences 143: 1-99 (1998)
  3. Zetter R, Weber M, Hesse M, Pingen M, Pollen, pollenkitt and orbicules in Craigia bronnii flower buds (Tilioideae, Malvaceae) from the Miocene of Hambach, Germany, Int. J. Plant Sci. 163: 1067-1071 (2002)
  4. Grímsson et al, Middle Miocene floras of Iceland – the early colonization of an island? Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 144(3-4): 181-219 (2007)
  5. Roiron, Paul, La macroflore d`age Miocene Superieur des diatomites de Murat. Palaeontographica Abteilung B, 223, 169-203 (1991)


  1. Pan & Jacobs, The earliest record of the genus Cola (Malvaceae sensu lato: Sterculioideae) from the Late Oligocene (28?27 Ma) of Ethiopia and leaf characteristics within the genus, Plant Systematics and Evolution 283(3/4): 247-262 (2009)
  2. Meyer, Herbert W. & Steven R. Manchester, The Oligocene Bridge Creek Flora of the John Day Formation, Oregon, University of California Publications in Geological Sciences 141:1-195 (1997)

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