Different applications of the magnoliid concept, and different conclusions as to which families should be included in the group, are a potential source of confusion in understanding early angiosperm evolution (Chapters 7, 8). However, recent phylogenetic studies have greatly clarified the situation and provide a firm basis for interpreting fossil material related to this important group of angiosperms. In this chapter we provide a brief outline of the current classification of eumagnoliids, and a review of those fossils, mainly from the Cretaceous, that can be assigned to the group. The fossil history of eumagnoliids is extensive, particularly from the Cenozoic, but there are also well-preserved and informative fossils from the Cretaceous. The early fossil record of eumagnoliids continues to increase rapidly as new palaeobotanical discoveries are made.
Classification of eumagnoliids
In the classification of Takhtajan (e.g. 1969) subclass Magnoliidae included six orders (Magnoliales, Laurales, Piperales, Aristolochiales, Rafflesiales, Nymphaeales), but it is now clear from phylogenetic analyses based on molecular data that this group is not monophyletic (e.g. Soltis et al., 2005; APGIII, 2009). Several families are now recognised to comprise the ANITA grade; others have been placed elsewhere in the angiosperm tree. Four orders, Magnoliales, Laurales, Piperales and Canellales (Zanis et al., 2003; APGIII, 2009), which were at the core of the former subclass Magnoliidae, comprise a monophyletic group, termed eumagnoliids by Soltis et al. (2000b) and magnoliids by APGIII (2009). Here we follow Soltis et al. (2000b) and refer to Magnoliales, Laurales, Piperales and Canellales as eumagnoliids. We use magnoliids informally in the broader conventional sense (Chapter 7). Magnoliales and Laurales form a clade that is sister to a clade comprising Piperales plus Canellales.