Fossil legumes from the Middle Eocene (46.0 Ma) Mahenge flora of Singida, Tanzania

Patrick S. Herendeen*, Bonnie F. Jacobs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Middle Eocene age caesalpinioid and mimosoid legume leaves are reported from the Mahenge site in north-central Tanzania. The Mahenge flora complements a sparse Paleogene tropical African fossil plant record, which until now consisted of a single macrobotanical assemblage, limited palynological studies in West Africa and Egypt, and fossil wood studies primarily from poorly dated deposits. Mahenge leaf macrofossils have the potential to add significantly to what is known of the evolutionary history of extant African plant groups and to expand our currently limited knowledge of African Paleogene environments. The site is associated with a kimberlite eruption and demonstrates the potential value of kimberlite-associated lake deposits as much-needed resources for African Paleogene floras. In this report we document a relatively diverse component of the flora consisting of the leaves of at least five species of Leguminosae. A new species of the extant genus Acacia (Mimosoideae), described herein, is represented by a bipinnate leaf. Another taxon is described as a new species of the extant genus Aphanocalyx (Caesalpinioideae), and a third leaf type may be related to the extant genus Cynometra (Caesalpinioideae). Two additional leaf types are less well understood: one appears to be referable to the Caesalpinioideae and subfamily affinities of the other taxon are unknown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1358-1366
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000


  • Caesalpinioideae
  • Eocene
  • Leguminosae
  • Mimosoideae
  • Paleo gene
  • Paleobotany
  • Tanzania

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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