Flowers have long been at the center of human life, gracing our gardens and expressing our emotions, but they are also essential to human survival. Flowering plants, which include wheat, corn and rice, provide the basis of our food, yield medicines and drive national economies. Yet for all our love and need of flowers, the question of how they evolved and came to dominate the globe has long confounded science. In the 19th century, Charles Darwin called the origin of flowers “an abominable mystery.”


Wild rose bush, China

In the search for answers, NOVA takes viewers on a spectacular journey of discovery to a remote mountain region of China, to explore our fascination with flowers and solve the puzzle of their beginnings. NOVA reveals how botanists and geneticists are beginning to solve that mystery.

The story begins in remote northern China, where Professor Sun Ge discovers Archaefructus, a 124-million-year-old fossil found in ancient lake deposits. Sun Ge shares this amazing find with American University of Florida paleobotanist David Dilcher, who has been hunting for evidence of the origin of flowers his entire career.