Species Spotlight: Florissantia speirii

Florissantia speirii, FLFO 111

The “Florissant flower,” Florissantia speirii, is another iconic fossil from the Florissant Formation. Although more common in the Green River Formation and elsewhere, F. speirii was first described here at the Florissant Fossil Beds. The species is tentatively placed in the Sterculiaceae, the family which includes cocoa (Theobroma cacao), kola nuts, and tropical mahoganies.

The delicate petals of flowers are rarely preserved in the fossil record, but the sepals (modified leaves) of F. speirii formed a tough calyx that protected the flower and aided preservation. Features of the flower suggest that it was pollinated by insects or birds, and its fruits were probably wind-dispersed.

You can see a F. speirii fossil on display in the Visitor Center at the park.  The genus name, Florissantia, is also shared by an insect, the planthopper Florissantia elegans.

-Melissa Barton

Photo Credit: Herb Meyer/Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

3 thoughts on “Species Spotlight: Florissantia speirii

  1. please l have just bought on ebay a fossil flower of the florissant can you give any help in my research on this flower . thanks david smith

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  3. Please can you tell of any books l can get which includes in them chapters off the fossil flowers or any other botanical prehistoric plants of the area l can use as for my research if possible has photos / line drawings or contact with someone who specialise in this field of plant fossils . Thanks David Smith [ my contact address is FLAT 3-116 MOLESEY AVENUE, WEST MOLESEY , SURREY , KT8 2ES , ENGLAND , UNITED KINGDOM ,