Spores and Pollen

Single-celled, plant microfossils.

Where in NZ Almost everywhere
When Silurian Period (420 million years ago) to present
Scale Typically 20-60μm - need a microscope to see them
Pollen grain

Pollen grain

What are they?

  • These are the most abundant plant fossils
  • Spores are the reproductive cells of lower plants such as mosses, liverworts, clubmosses and ferns.
  • Pollen cells are the male sperm-bearing cells of seed-bearing plants that fertilise ovaries in cones and flowers.
  • They are dispersed by wind, water, or insects and other animals.
  • Palynology is the study of pollen and spores, and other microscopic fossil plant remains.

Used for?

  • Dating marine and terrestrial sediments
  • Understanding the influence of past environmental change on plants
  • Learning about plant evolution and distribution
  • Forensics

See some examples in our image gallery.