Complex branching patterns in a newly recognized species of Compsocradus Berry et Stein (Iridopteridales) from the Middle Devonian of north Xinjiang, China
Berry, Christopher Mark
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Specimens, including the largest known axes, of an iridopteridalean plant of late Middle Devonian age are described from northern Xinjiang, China. The plant consists of three orders branching and dichotomous appendages. The first-order axis probably represents the stem. Lateral organs (lower-order branches and appendages) are attached along the primary axis in up to 10 ranks. The insertion pattern can be broken down into cycles in which one lateral is inserted in each rank, and each cycle is divided into two loose whorls; in one loose whorl, laterals occur in about half of the ranks, some adjacent, and in the other loose whorl, laterals occur in the other ranks. These ranks are believed to map the position of xylem ribs of the vascular system, which has not been preserved. The appendages are isodichotomously divided up to five times. Pairs of recurved sporangia terminate the fertile appendages. A collection of small axes (second and third order) of this plant from the same locality, lacking the distinctive branching patterns displayed in our first order axes, was recently given the name Ramophyton givetianum by D. M. Wang. Our enlarged concept of the plant includes several morphological similarities to Compsocradus laevigatus Berry et Stein from Venezuela, particularly relating to the branching pattern. The Xinjiang plant is therefore reassigned to Compsocradus givetianus (Wang DM) Fu, Wang Y, Berry et Xu comb. nov. It further increases knowledge of branching patterns amongst Iridopteridales, important for evaluating relationships to other plant groups.
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