Oldest known flowering plants identified by genes

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Key piece in the puzzle of the origins of flowering plants identified

Flowering plants now number 250,000 different species, including virtually all the vegetables and grains we eat, as well as most of the food of the animals that we consume. “It’s difficult to imagine a world without flowering plants,” said researcher Michael Donoghue. In 1999, as a result of analyzing the genes from all flowering plants suspected of being among the world’s oldest, Donoghue and research associate Sarah Mathews concluded that Amborella and water lilies are the first two branches on the family tree of flowering plants. Amborella is a nondescript shrub with small, unimpressive flowers, and it is found in only one place in the world – New Caledonia, a minor tropical island in a remote corner of the southwest Pacific.