A Middle-Late Eocene Inflorescence of Caryophyllaceae from Tasmania, Australia

Gregory Jordan, Michael Macphail

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    A new genus and species (Caryophylloflora paleogenica genus and species nova G. J. Jord. & Macphail) are proposed for a fossil inflorescence found in Middle-Late Eocene sediments at Locharbour, northeastern Tasmania, Australia. A parsimony analysis of 75 extant species of the order Caryophyllales and five outgroups placed the fossil within Caryophyllaceae, either subfamily Alsinoideae or Caryophylloideae. The analysis used molecular (rbcL and/or matK), morphological, and anatomical data for the extant species and morphological data for the fossil. Tests on extant species imply that the placement of the fossil should be convincing. The fossil appears to be of a lineage distinct from any extant Australian Caryophyllaceae. In situ pollen are consistent with the form species, Periporopollenites polyoratus. This relatively simple pollen type first appears in Australia and New Zealand in the Late Cretaceous, the oldest known record of the Caryophyllaceae. The last appearance of P. polyoratus in Australia is in the Oligocene, and extant Australian members of the Caryophyllaceae are best interpreted as having evolved from species that dispersed from elsewhere during the Neogene or Quaternary.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)761-768
    JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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