Turonian sediments from New Jersey have produced a wide array of
angiosperm floral and fruit remains. These sediments are ca. 90
million years old, and constitute the oldest records for several
important angiosperm clades, some very specific (e.g., Clusiaceae) and
others much more generalized (e.g., a broad array of ericalean taxa).
Within this assemblage are several examples of what can be considered
to be proto-fagaceous remains, consisting of tricarpellate epigynous
bisexual flowers along with similar flowers that appear to lack
ovaries and are functionally male. These flowers are found isolated
but also sometimes attached to axes with complexes of bracts that are
probably homologous to cupules found in modern Fagaceae. However,
these cupule-like structures are much more highly branched, and
probably less regular in pattern, than are modern fagaceous cupules.
In combination, these fossils provide a view of early fagaceous
diversity that would not be predicted directly from analysis of extant
taxa alone, and reiterate the value of fossil and morphological
studies in combination with both morphological and molecular analyses
of modern taxa.
Key words: cupule, Fagaceae, flowers, fossil, phylogeny, Turonian