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Am J Bot. 2004 Mar;91(3):499-509. doi: 10.3732/ajb.91.3.499.

Anatomically preserved Liquidambar (Altingiaceae) from the middle Miocene of Yakima Canyon, Washington state, USA, and its biogeographic implications.

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  • 1SOLS Faculty & Admin, Arizona State University, Box 874501, Tempe, Arizona 85287-4501 USA;


Liquidambar changii Pigg, Ickert-Bond & Wen sp. nov. (Altingiaceae) is established for anatomically preserved, middle Miocene infructescences from Yakima Canyon, Washington, USA. Specimens are spherical, ∼2.5 cm in diameter, and have ∼25-30 tightly packed, bilocular fruits per head. Fruits are 3.4-4.7 mm wide × 2.6-3.5 mm long and wedge shaped, fused at the base, and free distally. Each locule contains 1-2 mature, elongate seeds proximally and 5-9 aborted seeds of more irregular shape distally. Mature seeds are 1.5 mm long × 1.2 mm wide, elongate, and triangular transversely, with a slight flange. Seeds have a seed coat for which three zones can be well defined, a uniseriate outer palisade layer, a middle region of isodiametric cells comprising most of the integument, and a uniseriate inner layer of tangentially elongate cells lining the embryo cavity. Liquidambar changii is most similar to the eastern Asian L. acalycina H.-T. Chang on features of infructescence, fruit, and seed morphology and quite unlike the North American L. styraciflua L. and other species. Such a close relationship between these two species supports a Beringian biogeographic track between eastern Asia and western North America during the Miocene. Previous phylogenetic and allozyme analysis of modern Liquidambar demonstrates a close relationship between North American-western Asian taxa and suggests a North Atlantic biogeographic track in the middle Miocene. Together, these biogeographic tracks underscore the complexity of the biogeographic history of the Altingiaceae in the Northern Hemisphere throughout the Neogene.

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