Archaefructus is an extinct genus of herbaceous aquatic seed plants
with 3 known species.
Fossil material assigned to this genus
originates from the
Yixian Formation in northeastern China, originally
dated as late
Jurassic but now thought to be approximately 125 million
years old, or early
Cretaceous in age. Even with its revised age,
Archaefructus has been proposed to be one of the earliest known genera
of flowering plants.
Because of its age, lack of sepals and petals, and the fact that its
reproductive organs ( carpels and stamens ), are produced on an
elongate stem rather than condensed into a flower as in modern
angiosperms, Archaefructaceae has been proposed as a new basal
angiosperm family. An alternative interpretation of the same
fossil, however, interprets the elongate stem as an inflorescence
rather than a flower, with staminate (male) flowers below and
pistillate (female) flower above. The discovery of Archaefructus
eoflora supports this interpretation, because a bisexual flower is
present in the region between staminate and pistillate organs. If this
interpretation is correct,
Archaefructus may not be basal within the
angiosperms, rather it may be close to the
Nymphaeales or the basal
"Over the years many contenders have appeared for first true flower in
the fossil record. Some of these were eventually reclassified as
nonflowers, while others were dated more accurately to a later
geological time. Right now, the best and most unambiguous contender
for the title of first true flower is (125-130 million years old)
Archaefructus sinensis, described in 1998 by Ge Sun at Jilin
University and David Dilcher of the University of Florida.
Archaefructus was found in Yixian lake-bed deposits in Liaoning
Province of northeast China. Dating from the lower
Cretaceous age, its
scientific name means 'ancient fruit from China.' In an evolutionary
rather than a poetic sense, perhaps we should consider Archaefructus
as the mother, the Eve, of all living flowering plants."
^ Sun, G., Q. Ji, D.L. Dilcher, S. Zheng, K.C. Nixon & X. Wang
2002. Archaefructaceae, a New Basal
Angiosperm Family. Science
^ Friis, E.M., J.A. Doyle, P.K. Endress & Q. Leng 2003.
Angiosperm precursor or specialized early
angiosperm? Trends in
Plant Sciences 8: 369–373.
^ Ji, Q., H. Li, L.M. Bowe, Y. Liu & D.W. Taylor 2004. "Early
Archaefructus eoflora sp. nov. with Bisexual Flowers from
Beipiao, Western Liaoning, China" (PDF). (3.11 MiB)
Acta Geologica Sinica 78(4): 883–896.
^ "Paleobotanists identify what could be the mythical 'first flower'",
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 17, 2015
^ Stephen Buchmann. The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture,
Biology, and How They Change Our Lives. Scribner, NY, 2015
Fossil Collection: Archaefructus
Mark Norell: Unearthing the Dragon, ISBN 0131862669, p. 103
and 106 (
Archaefructus misspelled as Archaeofructus)