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The genus Zelkova contains species which are nowadays distributed in an extremely fragmentary, mainly Asiatic, area. The Island of Crete retains geographically the species nearest to Italy. Fossil leaves and pollen discovered in some sites of Central Italy furnish evidence of the distribution of these trees before and during the Last (Eemian) Interglacial and of their persistence during part of the Last (Wurmian) Glaciation. The evidence is seen in two pollen diagrams from boreholes at Castiglione and Fucino which have stratigraphic continuity; at the base of the series Zelkova reaches conspicuous peaks in a phase which can be correlated with the Eemian Interglacial. During the climatic fluctuations of the last glacial Zelkova disappears in steppe periods and spreads again in favourable times up to the time of extinction, which seems to occur in both series somewhat before the latest glacial acme.
The New Phytologist © 1986 New Phytologist Trust