Vessels of Illicium (Illiciaceae): Range of pit membrane remnant presence in perforations and other vessel details

Sherwin Carlquist, Edward L. Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Scanning electron microscope (SEM) examination of vessels from radial sections of Illicium wood showed a wide range of pit membrane remnant presence within any given species and within the seven species studied here. Earlier studies showed that dried specimens offer a reliable indicator of pit membrane presence. In all species, wide variation occurs, from intact pit membranes to perforations virtually free of pit membrane remnants. Illicium parviflorum has the largest number for the genus of perforation plates, with little or no pit membrane presence, although, in some plates, appreciable pit membrane presence was evident. Species differ in the forms taken by the pit membrane remnants: threads running axially in the perforations are common, but weblike conformations or pit membranes perforated by small circular to oval pores are other commonly encountered conditions. Artifacts attributable to handling and other factors are analyzed to obtain an image of pit membrane presence. Pit membrane remnant presence is consistent with the presence of other strongly primitive features of Illicium and its near-basal position in phylogenetic trees based on molecular data. Unusually narrow and sparse helical thickenings are figured with SEM for the genus for the first time; these thickenings occur in three species from habitats in which winter freezing occurs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)755-763
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Plant Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2002


  • Basal angiosperms
  • Ecological wood anatomy
  • Illiciales
  • Perforation plates
  • Primitive wood features
  • Vessel evolution
  • Wood evolution
  • Xylem


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