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Staminate flower of Prunus s. l. (Rosaceae) from Eocene Rovno amber (Ukraine)

Abstract

The late Eocene ambers provide plethora of animal and plant fossils including well-preserved angiosperm flowers from the Baltic amber. The Rovno amber from NW Ukraine resembles in many aspects the Baltic amber; however, only fossilized animals and some bryophytes have yet been studied from the Rovno amber. We provide the first detailed description of an angiosperm flower from Rovno amber. The flower is staminate with conspicuous hypanthium, double pentamerous perianth and whorled androecium of 24 stamens much longer than the petals. Sepals are sparsely pubescent and petals are densely hirsute outside. The fossil shares important features with extant members of Prunus subgen. Padus s. l. (incl. Laurocerasus, Pygeum and Maddenia), especially with its evergreen paleotropical species. It is described here as a new species Prunus hirsutipetala D.D.Sokoloff, Remizowa et Nuraliev. Our study provides the first convincing record of fossil flowers of Rosaceae from Eocene of Europe and the earliest fossil flower of Prunus outside North America. Our record of a plant resembling extant tropical species supports palaeoentomological evidences for warm winters in northwestern Ukraine during the late Eocene, as well as suggesting a more significant role of tropical insects in Rovno amber than inferred from Baltic amber.

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Fig. 1

(source of the material from a wild tree growing near Shurugwi in Zimbabwe). The uppermost flower is functionally male. g Prunus hirsutipetala sp. nov., light microscopy. Holotype, K-10028F (SIZK). Side view of the flower. h Prunus ceylanica (Wight) Miq., image taken by D. Valke 25.09.2015 in Ambenali Ghat, India. All flowers are staminate. i P. ilicifolia (Nutt. ex Hook. et Arn.) D. Dietr., image taken by Z.V. Akulova-Barlow 28.03.2017 in San Francisco, California. One of the flowers is staminate

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Anatoly P. Vlaskin for cutting and polishing the sample of amber, to Zoya V. Akulova-Barlow, Richard M. Bateman, Natalia P. Maslova, Alexei A. Oskolski and Alexandr P. Rasnitsyn for discussion, to Ekaterina A. Sidorchuk, Kirill Yu. Eskov and Igor V. Shamshev for determination of syninclusions, to Lene Lauritsen and Mark Hyde for kind permission to reproduce the image of P. africana originally published by Hyde et al. (2017), to Dinesh Valke for kind permission to reproduce the image of P. ceylanica originally published at https://www.flickr.com/photos/dinesh_valke/21875999921 and to Zoya V. Akulova-Barlow for providing an unpublished photograph of P. ilicifolia and kind permission to publish it in the present paper. Morphological description and comparisons with extant taxa were carried out in accordance to Government order for the Lomonosov Moscow State University (projects No. AAAA-A16-116021660045-2, АААА-А16-116021660105-3).

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Sokoloff, D.D., Ignatov, M.S., Remizowa, M.V. et al. Staminate flower of Prunus s. l. (Rosaceae) from Eocene Rovno amber (Ukraine). J Plant Res 131, 925–943 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10265-018-1057-2

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Keywords

  • Amber
  • Eocene
  • Europe
  • Flower
  • Fossil
  • Prunus hirsutipetala
  • Rosaceae