An apparently ericoid complex of taxa represented by over 1000 flowers, inflorescence fragments, fruits and leaves is a dominant element of the Upper Cretaceous (Turonian) New Jersey fossil flora, but is also represented in other Upper Cretaceous Atlantic Coastal Plant localities including Martha's Vineyard. Flowers are five-merous with superior ovaries and have 5 stamens alternating with 5 presumably staminodal nectaries. The disparate taxa share a common floral plan, abaxial sepal glands, clawed petals, axile/intruded parietal placentation, lobed spherical stigmas, dorsifixed anthers, tricolporate pollen and distinctive trichomes. They are linked by a subset of these attributes. Fruits are capsules and leaves are folded and have distinctive glands. Different taxa are distinguished by sometimes dramatically contrasting characters including: sepal gland distribution, stamen height vs. style length, anthers with or without spurs, trichome type and distribution, and pollen in monads vs. loose polyads. These taxa share many characters with modern Ericales and related families including Diapensiaceae, but other possibilities must be considered including families of Sapindales. These species are interesting from the perspective of pollination biology because they have characters consistent with highly derived forms of insect pollination.
|Side view of "ericoid 1"||Side view of "ericoid 2"||Side view of "ericoid 3"|
Crepet, W. L., K. C. Nixon. and M. A. Gandolfo. 2001. A Cretaceous Atlantic Coastal Plain "ericoid" complex. Botany 2001 Abstracts, Botanical Society of America: 62.