Nuphar Carlquistii sp. Nov. (Nymphaeaceae): A water lily from the latest early eocene, republic, washington

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International Journal of Plant Sciences


Premise of research. Fossil remains of a water lily, Nuphar carlquistii DeVore, Taylor and Pigg sp. nov. (Nymphaeaceae), are described from the latest early Eocene Republic flora of north-central Washington. Specimens include several fruits, one with in situ seeds, others with remnants of stamens and stamen attachment scars, and dispersed seeds found both within a mucilaginous dispersal matrix and separately. Associated structures, including a stigmatic disk, isolated tepals, and several rhizome segments bearing nested clusters of roots and leaf scars, are included in N. cf. carlquistii. Methodology. Fossils preserved in a lacustrine shale were dégaged to reveal details, photographed with LM, and compared morphologically with extant material of related plants. Pivotal results. The study documents the most complete fossil Nuphar known to date. The combination of multiple organs, including fruits, seeds, stamens, and rhizomes with leaf scars and clustered root scars, demonstrates that Eocene Nuphar had vegetative morphology and dispersal methods comparable to those of today. The fossil fruits share morphological features with extant members of section Astylus, establishing the presence of this New World lineage in the latest early Eocene Republic flora in northwestern North America. One specimen, a short rhizome fragment with attached roots that was previously attributed informally to Ensete (Musaceae), is shown to belong to this genus, underscoring the need for complete study of fossils prior to their use as climatic indicators. Conclusions. Nuphar carlquistii is rare among fossil remains of water lilies in having multiple reproductive structures present, including fruit peduncles, characteristic laminate anthers, seed masses in several stages of dispersal, and individual seeds. Associated Nuphar rhizomes with attached roots, tepals, and a stigmatic disk are assigned to N. cf. carlquistii and interpreted as representing the same plant. The presence of N. carlquistii in the Republic flora demonstrates that Nuphar section Astylus had established its present-day structure, plant habit, mode of seed dispersal, and aquatic niche by the early Eocene in the Okanogan Highlands of northwestern North America.


Biological and Environmental Sciences

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