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Earth's First Flower?

Earth's First Flower?

Archaefructus sinesis

Archaefructus sinensis

125 million years old
Collected in Liaoning Province, China
Although it had no petals, this ancient flower had closed fruits that protected the seeds inside. This evolutionary leap separated flowering plants from other plants and probably led to their great success.
On loan from the Florida Museum of Natural History

Probably not. But this 125-million-year-old fossil is from the oldest flowering plant found so far. This exciting discovery includes all parts of the plant and represents an entirely new, but now extinct, family. What’s more, it may indicate that flowering plants originated in shallow water habitats—the same ones that refreshed the dinosaurs.

To see paintings of living plants, visit "A Passion for Plants" on the first floor of the Museum.


Illustration of Archaefructus sinesis

Standing 51 cm (20 in) tall, the plant had thin stems that extended above the surface of the water. The seeds probably fell into the water and germinated near shore.

Illustration by:
Karina Simons and David Dilcher

map of Liaoning Province, China

The fossil was collected in Liaoning Province, China, by a team of scientists that included Dr. David Dilcher, a paleobotanist who is a Board member of this Museum.

To learn more about Science and Collections visit the following websites :
Department of Systematic Biology Division of Botany

Past Science News exhibits


"Science in the News" features Natural History issues in the news media and interesting objects from the Museum's collections. We will frequently introduce new issues that come from our research, collections, exhibits, and projects.