How would Phenakospermum get to NE South America?

I finally obtained a specimen of Phenakospermum guyannense, a relative of the common “Bird of Paradise” plant (Strelitzia reginea).

Both Strelitzia (southern Africa) and it’s close relative, Ravenela (Madagascar) originated quite near to each other, but Phenakospermum ( NE South America) developed over 5000 miles away across the Atlantic Ocean.

Do we have to go back to Continental Drift for the “exchange” when all three Genus were relatively close to each other, seeds from bird migration or something else entirely?

My initial thinking would have been to blame it on tectonics, like with Proteacea, but all indications seem to be that the divergence here was post-Gondwana, in the Eocene.

So seed dispersal is more likely. There probably used to be at least one chain of islands across the SouthAtlanticwhen it was narrower.

Is it possible for seeds to be blown across the distance of the Atlantic? Perhaps in a tropical storm or hurricane?

I do know that one of the pieces of evidence for continental drift was finding similar plant species in corresponding regions of Africa and South America. But I don’t know if Phenakospermum was one of them.

*Stelizia *seeds are dispersed by animals - birds and monkeys, mostly. I expect it’s similar for Phenakospermum. So I’d expect dispersal happened *inside *animals.

No. At least, I have never seen it cited as such, usually it’s *Glossopteris *, *Nothofagus *, Araucaria, Podocarpaceae and Proteaceae that get mentioned.

The question is not only how Strelitzia got from southern Africa to northeast South America (or vice versa), but how long ago it happened because botanists have determined that Strelitzia is biologically different enough that they assigned Phenakospermum a different Genus. Would this transformation take a million years?

Read the paper I linked to.

Sorry, my eyes didn’t catch your link.

Great article, thanks so much for posting it!

Very informative. I learned of the discovery of Strelitzia reginae subsp. mzimvubuensis in 2007. Probably never get one of those in my collection.

In the Biogeography section, speculation on the origin of Phenakospermum was not addressed. The section mostly was concerned with the development of the various Strelitzia species in southern Africa.

Thanks again for the link.