Seed micromorphology of neotropical begonias
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Seed micromorphology of neotropical begonias

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Series: Smithsonian contributions to botany ; no. 90.


De Lange, A. (Anton)

Bouman, F. (Ferry), 1941-




Published material

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Washington, D.C. :Smithsonian Institution Press,1999.


The seeds of about 235 Neotropical Begonia species, representing almost all recognized American Begonia sections, were studied using scanning electron microscopy. The seeds show an appreciable diversity in size, shape, and micromorphology, which is helpful in the delimitation of sections and sometimes also of species. Mean seed length varies from 235 μm in Begonia filipes to 1450 μm in B. fruticosa; most seeds have a length between 300 μm and 600 μm. The shape of the seeds varies from almost globular to narrowly elliptic, and the length to width ratio ranges from 1.2 in B. hexandra to 8.1 in B. fruticosa. Further differences exist in the shape of the testal cells, the undulation of the anticlinal walls, the bulging of the outer periclinal walls, and the pattern and roughness of the cuticle.Five of the 15 mainly Brazilian, five of the 12 Andean and Guianan, and one of the eight middle American sections have a seed structure that is characteristic at the sectional level. All these sections have a relatively restricted geographical distribution, and they may differ in growth form or habitat. Most species of the other sections, including the larger and more widely distributed sections Begonia, Gireoudia, and Knesebeckia, have seeds conforming to the ordinary seed type.In a number of the sections, the structural differences of the seeds are nicely correlated with differences in growth form and/or in means of dispersal. In contrast to the African begonias, the great majority of the Neotropical begonias have anemoballistic dispersal. Seeds may be adapted to wind dispersal by extended micropylar and/or chalazal ends with inflated, air-filled cells, such as in the Brazilian sections Solananthera, Trendelenburgia, and Enita and in the Andean section Rossmannia, or by a more pronounced surface with deep, collapsed testal cells, such as in sections Gobenia and Scheidweileria. Zooballistic dispersal by passing animals is supposed to be present in section Casparya. The seeds of sections Casparya and Trachelocarpus have very pronounced cuticular patterns and may be secondarily dispersed by rain wash or by adhering to animals.No distinct indications for an intercontinental relationship between Neotropical, African, and Asiatic sections could be established.


Begonias , Morphology , Scanning electron microscopy , Seeds

Call Number

QK1 .S2747 no. 90




GPO: 0910-E
LCCN: 99030195
OCLC: 41468375




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