A fossil beech fern (cf. Phegopteris (C. Presl) Fée) from Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park, British Columbia
Keywords:beech fern, Phegopteris, fossil, Eocene, British Columbia, diversity
Ferns are important components of the biodiversity of wet forests across Canada, and the fossil record offers insights into the origins of fern diversity and biogeography. In 1967, Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park in north-central British Columbia was declared an Eocene Epoch plant, insect, fish, bird, and mammal fossil site of national scientific significance to preserve the Driftwood Creek fossil beds. The fossil plants from this important fossil site remain largely unknown. Here, a first record of a beech fern from the Eocene of British Columbia—morphologically comparable to the Phegopteris connectilis group—is illustrated, further revealing the past biodiversity of ancient British Columbia. The absence of sori and other key anatomical characters prevents definitive identification. Today, the circumpolar to temperate species Northern Beech Fern (Phegopteris connectilis) is widespread across British Columbia, occurring in wet coniferous forests; other members of the P. connectilis group also occur in temperate climates.
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