Plants are major indicators of climate. Fossil leaves and plants act as ancient thermometers, allowing scientists to study the ancient climate of Fossil Lake. It is difficult to identify fossil leaf specimens from the Fossil Butte Member (FBM) at the species level.
Gyrocarpus specimens (pictured above and to the right) demonstrate the challenge of identifying fossil plant species.
Palm - Palmites speciesOrder Arecales, Family Aracacea
Palm inflorescences (a group of flowers arranged on a stem) and palm fronds (pictured here) are common fossil specimens from the FBM.
Winged Fruit Species - Lagokarpos LacustrisOrder unknown, Family unknown
Lagos - translating "hare" (referencing rabbit-head shape of seed and wings)
Karpos - translating "fruit"
Lacustris - translating "of lakes and ponds"
Tree of Heaven - Ailanthus confuciiOrder Sapindales, Family Simaroubaceae
There are about 100 modern species in the Simaroubaceae family, found primarily in tropical and subtropical regions. The Ailanthus genus has a disputed number of living species, somewhere between 5 and 10. They are commonly known as "Trees of Heaven."
A. confucii is:
Staghorn Fern - Platycerium speciesOrder Polypodiales, Family Polypodiaceae
Water Fern - Salvinia preauriculataOrder Salviniales, Family Salviniaceae
This aquatic species had 2 floating leaves and 1 root-like leaf which would hang below the water's surface.
Living members of the Salvinia genus:
Climbing Fern - Lygodium kaulfussiOrder Schizaeales, Family Lygodiaceae
Living members of the Lygodium genus:
Lotus - Nelumbo speciesOrder Proteales, Family Nelumbonaceae
The modern Nelumbo genus:
Flower-Like-Fruit - Chaneya tenuis
Birthwort - species unknownOrder Piperales, Family Aristolochiaceae
Modern members of the Aristolochiaceae family:
Soapberry - Deviacer wolfeiOrder Sapindales, Family Sapindaceae
Living members of the Sapindaceae family:
WalnutThis seed has the appearance of a walnut.
Last updated: November 17, 2022