A new fossil flower from the Old Crossman Clay Pit locality of the Raritan Formation (Upper Cretaceous, Turonian, ~90 million years BP), Sayreville, New Jersey, is described from charcoalified, three-dimensionally preserved specimens. The flower is minute in size, perfect, and pentamerous except for the gynoecium, which is composed of only two carpels. The sepals are triangular in shape and basally connate forming a hypanthium; trichomes occur on both surfaces of the sepals. Three overlapping petals preserved in one specimen and petal scars present in others indicate that the corolla is composed of five petals with imbricate aestivation. The androecium is composed of five staminodes or stamens with relatively long, ribbonlike filaments; anthers are currently unknown. The bicarpellate ovary is either semi-inferior or inferior with two locules and axile placentation. Although there are two free styles, the stigmas are fused forming a single stigmatic platform. A swollen ring located on top of the ovary and surrounding the base of the styles is interpreted as a nectary disk. Based on the pentamerous flower plan with bicarpellate gynoecium, inferior or semi-inferior ovary position, and especially the presence of free styles with fused stigmas, this fossil has affinities with the modern genus Itea, typically placed within the Saxifragaceae senso lato.
|Top view of saxifragoid flower||Side view||Pollen grain|
Hermsen, E., W.L. Crepet, and K. C. Nixon. 2000. A new fossil saxifragoid from the Upper Cretaceous of New Jersey. American Journal of Botany 87 (6 supp.): 69.