Vessel dimensions in liana and tree species of Gnetum (Gnetales)

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American Journal of Botany


Maximum vessel diameters were examined in the secondary xylem of stems of Gnetum of various sizes. One tree (G. gnemon) and 13 liana species were compared. In three species, vessel length distributions were determined by the latex paint method, and showed many short and fewer long vessels. Latex and compressed air methods, used to find the maximum vessel lengths, showed that maximum vessel lengths were similar for three species of Gnetum. In old stems, mean and maximum vessel diameters tended to be greater in lianas than in the tree species. The skewed distribution of vessel lengths and the trend of wider vessels in lianas as compared to trees were similar to those distributions and trends described previously for angiosperms. In random samples of macerated wood of three species, simple perforation plates were most common in vessel members of all species. Foraminate and modified foraminate perforations were less frequent. Average diameter of vessel members with either foraminate or modified foraminate perforations was less than for those with simple perforations. The resemblance of Gnetum vessels to those of angiosperm trees and vines is most likely a case of convergent evolution (homoplasy) in xylem characteristics.