U–Pb dating of zircons from thin middle Permian tuffs in the Canning Basin of Western Australia by chemical abrasion-isotope dilution thermal ionisation mass spectrometry reveals a conflict with the established spore-pollen zonation. Normally, the first appearance datum of Dulhuntyispora granulata across the continent lies stratigraphically above assemblages assigned to the Microbaculispora villosa Zone. However, the youngest tuffs within non-marine facies from the M. villosa Zone in Pittston SD-1, drilled in the southwest of the Canning Basin, yielded an age of 267.04 § 0.14 Ma, which is 1.7 million years younger than tuffs associated with the D. granulata Zone in marginal-marine facies from core holes 350–400 km to the northeast. The apparent conflict in ages is possibly due to the non-marine depositional environment having wielded a strong local influence on the palynoflora along the edge of this basin. Although the present information indicates an age 2.5 million years younger than the 266.6 Ma age previously suggested for the top of the M. villosa Zone, revisions to the ages of Roadian–Wordian spore-pollen zones are not considered justifiable without further supporting evidence. Furthermore, considerable care is needed when comparing palynological assemblages from significantly differing facies. Two basaltic sills (43.5 m and 20 m thick) immediately below the tuffaceous beds in Pittston SD-1 are coincidental, as Ar–Ar dating indicates a Late Triassic age for the intrusions.