Stem vascular architecture in the American climbing palm Desmoncus (Arecaceae-Arecoideae-Bactridinae)

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Botanical Journal of the Linnaen Society


Analysis of the stem vasculature of the American climbing palm Desmoncus reveals structural features differing significantly from the Old World rattan genus Calamus. Desmoncus has a more directly continuous vascular system but nevertheless shows a vessel distribution that makes for high hydraulic resistance in the axial xylem. Desmoncus is like Calamus in having a single very wide metaxylem vessel in each central axial bundle and is also without direct vascular contact between protoxylem and metaxylem tracheary elements. However, in Desmoncus the stem vascular bundle system resembles that in tree palms (as has been described in the model palm Rhapis excelsa) in having a continuing axial bundle that branches from each outgoing leaf trace together with a large number of bridge connections between leaf traces and peripheral axial bundles. Resistance to axial water transport is, however, evident in the narrowness of the continuing metaxylem elements in the peripheral stem vascular region. Desmoncus has scalariform perforation plates with few thickening bars in the metaxylem vessels, unlike the simple perforation plates found in Calamus. Thus, Desmoncus shows only limited convergence in stem vascular architecture toward the extreme modifications found in Calamus. This is not unexpected since it is clear that the climbing habit evolved independently in the two genera.