Ternstroemites leaves are frequently found in Eocene Claiborne age clay deposits in Western Kentucky and Tennessee. The present study was focused upon anatomical and morphological analysis of the fossil leaf Ternstroemites and leaves of the living plant, Gordonia lasianthus . This analysis consists of leaf form, size, margin, venation, cuticle characters (including stomata, trichomes and epidermal cells) of the fossil and modern leaves. Reports of Gordonia have been made based upon fruits and seeds preserved in the same clay deposits from which Ternstroemites leaves have been found. Therefore we applied a rigorous comparison of leaf characters to see if the fossil leaves also demonstrate close similarities of numerous characters to the living genus Gordonia. The character sets of the fossil and living leaves appear similar. As a result of its ancient history, Gordonia is distributed today Southeast Asia, southeast North America, Central America and north South America. Changes in paleoatmosphere concentration of carbon dioxide can also be observed from the stomatal index data of the fossil leaves.

Key words: Claiborne, Eocene, Gordonia, Ternstroemites, Theaceae