Another entry written by Alexis from this past summer. Alexis writes:
Today we conclude the prehistoric plant series with a species from the Cretaceous period. This photo from Wikimedia Commons was taken by Scott Zona (scott.zona@Flickr); the original photo can be found on Flickr. Thanks, Scott!
Amborella trichopoda is generally accepted as the sole remaining representative of the most basal lineage of flowering plants. The divergence of the ancestors of this “sister” species from all other flowering plant lineages occurred approximately 130 million years ago.
The present-day distribution of the species is restricted to New Caledonia, where it grows in “moist, shaded understory of montane forests”. Amborella trichopoda is a dioecious woody shrub pollinated by wind and insects that produces tiny flowers on both male and female individuals and small red fruits on the females only.
For additional reading, see this National Geographic article on the origin of angiosperms: “The Big Bloom–How Flowering Plants Changed the World”.