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New perspective on the architecture of the late Late Devonian arborescent lycopsid Leptophloeum rhombicum (Leptophloeaceae)

New perspective on the architecture of the late Late Devonian arborescent lycopsid Leptophloeum rhombicum (Leptophloeaceae)

American journal of botany 92(1): 83-91

A reinvestigation of the previously described Leptophloeum rhombicum trunk from the Late Devonian (Frasnian) Huangchiateng Formation of Hubei, China provides a new perspective on the architecture of this arborescent lycopsid. It is preserved as a flattened, silicified petrification with an unevenly permineralized primary vasculature and spirally arranged rhombic leaf cushions, which agree with the diagnosis of L. rhombicum Dawson distributed worldwide in the Late Devonian. Taxonomically, this plant should be assigned to its own family and within the order Isoeetales sensu lato. The anatomy, from different levels of the trunk, demonstrates that the ontogeny of the plant may conform to a determinate growth pattern. Combining previous data with current architectural analysis, it suggested that the L. rhombicum tree had a pseudomonopodial branching pattern rather than an iso-dichotomous branching crown as previously proposed. New reconstruction of the general habit for this tree is given and consists of three major architectural units: a stigmarian rhizomorph, a main trunk, and lateral branches. When these results are considered with recent cladistic work, L. rhombicum may have developed similar growth architecture to some Famennian and Carboniferous arborescent lycopsids. This growth represents one of the archetypal architectures found in the Isoeetales s.l. extending from the early Late Devonian.

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