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Project Background

The Early Middle Eocene Republic Flora of Northeastern Washington State

The fossil plant images presented here are the result of a paleobotanical investigation of the Republic flora from the main site in the town of Republic, Washington as well as some lesser known localities in the area. A group of deposits referred to as the Okanogan Highlands preserved a diverse temperate/warm temperate forest that existed approximately 50 million years ago. Modern forests in temperate Western North America are not nearly as diverse as these forests were. The best living analogues are the diverse hardwood dominated forests found today in the NE United States and parts of China. An abundance of fossil leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds reflect the high diversity of the Eocene flora at Republic.

Both mega and microfossils have been utilized to compile as complete a representation of the flora as possible. Paleobotanical methods have been applied to the Republic flora to infer the climate when the flora existed. This analysis suggests a temperate climate, slightly warmer than other middle Eocene Okanogan Highlands sites, reflected in the fact that Republic contains thermophilic elements such as Ensete(banana) and Zamiaceae (cycad). Republic is the most diverse and well-studied deposit of the Okanogan Highlands floral construct and has unique elements that expand our knowledge of the Early Middle Eocene flora of the Pacific Northwest.

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