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Female Flower and Cupule Structure in Balanopaceae, an Enigmatic Rosid Family
, Endress P.K.
Annals of Botany
, 2003. V. 92. No. 3. P. 459–469
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Oxford University Press · firstname.lastname@example.org
The Balanopaceae, whose flowers were poorly known, have, in the past, been variously allocated to the Fagales, Euphorbiaceae, Salicales or other hamamelids and rosids (these groups being in Fagales, Malpighiales and Saxifragales, according to the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group). This paper attempts a clarification based on flower morphology. Female flowers and cupules were studied in Balanops vieillardii, young fruits in B. australiana. The cupules are simple involucres of bracts which are spirally arranged (according to a Fibonacci pattern) on the floral axis preceding the flower. They contrast with the complicated cupules of Fagaceae which consist of a condensed cymose ramification system of axes of several orders around the flower. Flowers appear later than most of the cupular bracts, in contrast to Fagaceae. In addition to a terminal flower there may be several smaller lateral flowers in the axil of cupular bracts, each surrounded by its own small cupule. The female flowers do not have a perianth. They consist of two to three large carpels. At anthesis, the ovary is completely septate; the syncarpous part (ovary and lower style) is completely symplicate. The carpels are free for most of their length, with the free parts once, twice or three times bifurcate, in contrast to simple in Fagales. The stigmatic surface covers the ventral side of each stigmatic branch and at the margins also spreads to the dorsal side. The stigma is wet and secretion appears holocrine. The two ovules per carpel are collateral and axile in early development. However, at anthesis they appear one above the other, because in one ovule the funicle greatly elongates. As the ovary elongates only above the placenta, the ovules appear basal at anthesis. The ovules are (weakly) crassinucellar, bitegmic (not unitegmic), anatropous, and intermediate between apotropous and epitropous (not apotropous). The ovules are mature at anthesis, in contrast to Fagales. In mature ovules the upper part of the nucellus disintegrates, and a weakly differentiated endothelium is present in the inner integument. The morphological results of this study support a position of Balanopaceae in Malpighiales, and not Fagales or other orders, and are thus in accordance with recent molecular results based on chloroplast rbcL sequences data. However, within Malpighiales, as opposed to molecular results, Balanopaceae agree more with Euphorbiaceae s.l. than with Dichapetalaceae/Trigoniaceae and Chrysobalanaceae/Euphroniaceae.