Original paper

Myrica from the plant assemblage of Pitsidia (Crete, late Miocene): putting the puzzle together

Zidianakis, Goammos; Iliopoulos, George; Zelilidis, Avraam; Kovar-Eder, Johanna

Abstract

This article deals with a unique mass-occurrence of Myrica from Pitsidia (southern Crete, Tortonian). Foliage, fruits and infructescences as well as male catkins are preserved as imprints, sometimes coated by an iron-rich encrustation exhibiting systematically relevant morphological details. Leaves are assigned to Myrica lignitum (Unger) Saporta, fruits sometimes even attached to their infructescence axis to M. ceriferiformis Kownas, and male catkins to M. cf. goeppertii Kohlman-Adamska, Ziembińska- Tworzydło & Zastawniak. The taphonomic evidence indicates that the different plant organs derive from a single species of Myrica. The fruit size, the unbranched male catkins and mainly the fused filaments into a staminal column in the male flower, clearly pointing towards the section Cerophora (sensu Chevalier 1901) of the subgenus Morella. This points to a closer affinity to the American, African and Macaronesian species of Myrica than to Asian ones. Myrica cerifera L. is supported as the most similar living relative in terms of gland density on the leaf surface, fruit morphology and male catkin form. The infructescence axes bearing M. ceriferiformis fruits are, however, longer with a higher number of fruits than in M. cerifera. Contrary to M. cerifera, in M. cf. goeppertii the catkins are somewhat longer and the staminal column is shorter than its floret bract. Myrica was probably a dominant taxon along with Pinus in an early successional stage of near-coastal wetland forests in the surroundings of Pitsidia. In southeastern North America, modern early successional Pinus palustris forests with Myrica cerifera as a differential species serve for comparison.

Keywords

foliagefertile organsmost similar living relativeecologyTortonian