Plant Diversity ›› 2013, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (3): 241-252.DOI: 10.7677/ynzwyj201313082

• Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Seed Morphology in Some Chinese Species of Aconitum (Ranunculaceae) and Its Systematic Implications

 KONG  Hang-Hui-1, GAO  Qi-2, LUO  Yan-3, YANG  Qin-Er-1   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Plant Resources Conservation and Sustainable Utilization, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy
    of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China; 2 Guangxi Institute of Botany, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Chinese
    Academy of Sciences, Guilin 541006, China; 3 Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden,
    Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla 666303, China
  • Received:2013-04-08 Online:2013-05-25 Published:2013-04-16


Seed morphology in 57 species and 5 varieties representative of the main Chinese groups of Aconitum (Ranunculaceae) was investigated under scanning electron microscope (SEM) in an attempt to evaluate its taxonomic significance. The results are: (1) Great constancy of seed coat microcharacteristics was observed within the genus. All the taxa studied exhibit a warty ornamentation of the integument epidermal cells. (2) Marked differences of seed grossmorphology were observed among the three subgenera (Lycoctonum, Aconitum, and Gymnaconitum) of the genus. In particular, seeds of subgen. Gymnaconitum are distinctly different by having round or ellipticshaped integument epidermal cells from those of subgenera Aconitum and Lycoctonum which have rectangularshaped epidermal cells. (3) Seeds of the species studied within subgen. Lycoctonum fall into two types. Seeds in A.novoluridum (the only species in sect. Alatospermum) are longitudinally very narrowly winged along three ridges and hardly squamate, and may represent the most primitive seed type of the genus Aconitum. Seeds in sect. Lycoctonum are commonly 1ridged, and more or less transversely squamate. Seeds within subgen. Aconitum are divisible into four types. Those in A.tanguticum (ser. Tangutica), which are provided with three equally developed longitudinal wings along the edges and with smooth faces, may be regarded as the simplest type within the subgenus. Another seed type with three edges and smooth faces but with some tubercles arranged transversely on the surface of epidermal cells, is apparent in species of ser. Brachypoda. Aconitum hicksii (ser. Bullatifolia) and A.brunneum (ser. Brunnea) also have this seed type. In the third and fourth types, the complete disappearance of the two longitudinal wings is coupled with considerable development of transverse membranous wings, but the third type (only found in A.pulchellum of ser. Rotundifolia) has much narrower wings than the fourth type (occurring in A.nagarum of ser. Bullatifolia, and in all species studied of ser. Stylosa, ser. Racemulosa, ser. Volubilia, ser. Inflata, ser. Ambigua, and ser. Grandituberosa). These results confirm the important potential value of seed morphology for the infrageneric division of Aconitum, and further studies should be carried out.

Key words: Aconitum, Seed morphology, Seed coat micromorphology, Systematic implication, Taxonomy

CLC Number: