Origin and nature of vessels in monocotyledons. 5. Araceae subfamily Colocasioideae

Sherwin Carlquist, Edward L. Schneider

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23 Scopus citations


Tracheary elements from macerations of roots and stems of one species each of five genera of Araceae subfamily Colocasioideae were studied by means of SEM (scanning electron microscopy). All of the genera have vessel elements not merely in roots, as previously reported for the family as a whole, but also in stems. The vessel elements of stems in all genera other than Syngonium are less specialized than those of roots; stem vessel elements are tracheid-like and have porose pit membrane remnants in perforations. The perforations with pit membrane remnants demonstrate probable early stages in evolution of vessels from tracheids in primary xylem of monocotyledons. The vessel elements with such incipient perforation plates lack differentiation in secondary wall thickenings between perforation plate and lateral wall, and such vessel elements cannot be identified with any reliability by means of light microscopy. The discrepancy in specialization between root and stern vessel elements in genera other than Syngonium is ascribed to probable high conductive rates in roots where soil moisture fluctuates markedly, in contrast with the storage nature of stems, in which selective value for rapid conduction is less. Syngonium stem vessels are considered adapted for rapid conduction because the stems in that genus are scandent. Correlation between vessel element morphology and ecology and habit are supported. Although large porosities in vessel elements facilitate conduction, smaller porosities may merely represent rudimentary pit membrane lysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-86
Number of pages16
JournalBotanical Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Aroids
  • Basal monocotyledon evolution
  • Conductive plant physiology
  • Tracheary elements
  • Vessel elements
  • Xylem evolution


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