Abstract

A conifer from the uppermost Permian with small, helically arranged leaves is described from the Guangxi Autonomous Region and Guizhou Province of South China as Szecladia multinervia, new genus and species. The material includes both impression specimens and the first anatomically preserved Paleozoic conifer fossils from China. Shoots are irregularly branched, with small, helically arranged, multiveined leaves. Stems display an endarch eustele with abundant, dense wood. Leaf traces diverge from the stele as a single bundle that divides several times in the cortex and at the base of the leaves, forming about seven or eight parallel veins in each leaf. Szecladia is the earliest known conifer with multiveined leaves and it represents a distinctive coniferous element of the uppermost Permian Cathaysian flora in South China. Szecladia further demonstrates that conifers with wood and leaf venation suggestive of the Podocarpaceae may have evolved by the end of the Paleozoic.

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