Most flowers have brief but glorious lives. One particular flower has had its good looks preserved in Burmese amber for millions of years. A team led by researchers at Oregon State University shared the discovery of the new flower, and the bloom remains as stunning as it no doubt was the day it was trapped in time.
“This isn’t quite a Christmas flower but it is a beauty, especially considering it was part of a forest that existed 100 million years ago,” amber expert George Poinar Jr., a professor emeritus at OSU, said in a statement this week.
Poinar is the lead author of a paper on the flower published this month in the Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.
What we’re seeing is an extreme close-up of a very tiny flower measuring just a fraction of an inch (2 millimeters) across. The stamens — the part of a male flower that produces pollen — are preserved in a swirling spiral pattern.
The research team named the flower, which is a new genus and species, Valviloculus pleristaminis.
“Valva is the Latin term for the leaf on a folding door, loculus means compartment, plerus refers to many, and staminis reflects the flower’s dozens of male sex organs,” OSU explained.
The flower gives scientists a peek into a long-ago botanical past. They suspect the lone male flower was once part of a cluster on a plant that may’ve also had female flowers. Said Poinar, “Despite being so small, the detail still remaining is amazing.”