Plant Diversity

Tracheophytes— Flowering Plants (Angiosperms)

What is one of the oldest-known fossil flowers found?

One of the oldest-known fossil flowers was discovered in 2002—a flowering plant estimated to be 125 million years old. Found in China by local farmers, the plant (Archaefructus sinensis) was about 20 inches (51 centimeters) high with thick stems stretching up in the water; from there, the stem would expose its pollen and seed organs above the water, with the seeds no doubt falling into the water and floating along the shore—germinating in the more shallow waters. The flower never bloomed—and does not look like modern angiosperms—but it has the qualifications of a flower. Besides being the oldest-known fossil flower, it is also thought to be an indication that modern flowers had their origins underwater.


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