Malvaceae Info (Home)
Fossil material of plants can be difficult to identify as to species, genus, or larger taxonomic unit, as usually what is found is individual parts of plants, such as wood, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds or pollen, and these are often insufficient for identification, particularly for older material which is less closely related to modern material, and may be less well preserved. Consequently, and as fossils of one plant part often cannot be unambigiously associated with those of another plant part, palaeobotanists use form genera to classify parts of plants of uncertain taxonomic position.
The suffix -anthus is also sometimes used in generic names, indicating a similarity with the flowers or inflorescences of the modern genus whose name is combined with the suffix. The suffix -pushpam, which seems to have some connection to the Sanskrit word for flower, has also been used for a number of fossil flowers from India.
Stamens may be found separately from the remainder of the flower. For fossil stamen the suffix -stemon is often used in generic names, indicating a similarity with the fruits of the modern genus whose name is combined with the suffix. It cannot be assumed that the fossil stamens represent a species particularly close to the modern genus.
[A position in Malvaceae ("Sterculiaceae") was considered for the fossil flower Fouldenia staminsia from the early Miocene of New Zealand, but was rejected because of mismatched pollen . A flower, Tilianthus bensoni, which from the name one would infer is similar to Tilia, from the Deccan Intertrappean Beds, was reported at an 1987 conference . There doesn't appear to have been any subsequent publication of this.]
A flower assigned to Bombax sepultiflorum Sap. is recorded from the Oligocene of France . An illustration is available , as is a photograph .
Bombax asiatica Hazra, Bera et Khan is described from the Pliocene of the Chotanagpur plateau in India [a].
The genus Burretia Mai, with the single species Burretia instructa (Mai) Mai, is based on fossil flowers from the Miocene of Germany. It has been compared with Brownlowioideae, but it is argued that this is incompatible with its possession of parallel anthers, a protruding connective, and a calyx of 4 or 5 thick fused sepals, and that it may represent a Craigia or Tilia. The associated pollen, Intratriporopollentites (Tiliaepollenites) instructus, [6 ] is of the Tilia-type , which supports the latter interpretation.
A flower, assigned to the species Eriotheca prima, was found in the Fonseca Formation (Upper Miocene and Pliocene) in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais .
Fossils of a flower with a (5 or) 10-loculate ovary and 5 lanceolate perianth segments (sepals?) of tentative malvalean affinities have been found in the latest Cretaceous of New Zealand [b].
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