Authors: Friðgeir Grímsson, Alexandros Xafis, Frank H. Neumann, Reinhard Zetter.
When applying high-resolution microscopy, the pollen morphology of extant taxa can be used to classify fossil pollen, that is, to address the latter in the established systematic-phylogenetic framework. Here we investigate tetrads and pollen features of 20 different Winteraceae species, most of them belonging to the early-diverging generic lineages Tasmannia, Drimysand Pseudowintera. The tetrads and pollen are grouped into eleven pollen types based on diagnostic features observed by both light and scanning electron microscopy. The high-resolution scanning electron micrographs of recent material allow
detailed comparison with fossil material, resulting in a more accurate affiliation of fossil tetrads/pollen to extant lineages. As a case study, early Miocene Winteraceae tetrads from South Africa are re-examined and formally described. The systematic placement of the African fossils is discussed in light of the pollen types presented here.