Amborella trichopoda

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”.

Amborella trichopoda

7 responses to “Amborella trichopoda”

  1. susan

    Is Amborella represented in the fossil record? Do you know if the flowers have a scent?

  2. john voss

    Prof. Zona is my all-time palm hero (Monograph on the genus Sabal).

  3. elizabeth a airhart

    the world would be a sad place with out flowers
    millions of years later all i can do is say thank you

  4. kcflowers

    Thank-you for this series. I have never studied prehistoric plants (or periods, really), so this was very informative and interesting. I loved the medicinal plants series you did a while ago; I look forward to the next series.

  5. MacGeoff Griffiths Brown

    Comment removed by Daniel — nothing to do with topic at hand. Ask the question about browning spruce trees on the forums, instead — there is a link to the forums under “Leave a comment”

  6. Lisa Haglund

    I loved this series, and I’m sad to see it’s ending. I always look forward to learning about the more unusual species you cover. I really liked the fungi series too – fascinating stuff.
    Thank you

  7. Wendy McClure

    I hope this topic can be continued in the future with such subjects as the Wollemi Pine which, until 1994, was only known from fossils before it was discovered growing in the Blue Mountains of Australia. Read The Wollemi Pine by James Woodford for more about the story of its discovery.

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