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Re: [aroid-l] What does inflorescence mean?

  • Subject: Re: [aroid-l] What does inflorescence mean?
  • From: "Matyas Buzgo" buzgo@systbot.unizh.ch
  • Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2003 08:59:12 -0400

Dear Nancy and others

Terminated short shoot bearing the reproductive organs (stamens and
carpels), commonly also perianth (sepals and petals); this term is
restricted to flowering plants (angiosperms).  There are many reductions of
the flower, such as in Araceae, Euphorbiaceae, palms etc.
1) conifers, cycads, Ephedra and Gnetum do NOT have a flower, though it may
look and act very similar.
2) Flowers do not resume axial growth, they do not continue at the tip, and
they have no lateral shooots subtended by the sepals, petals or later up (of
course there are freaks in the genetic labs).
3) The flowers of most Araceae are tiny. However, if you look at Anthurium
or Spathiphyllum you easily can recognize the single flower (with perianth,
stamens and carpels and all it takes), and understand what happened in

Assemby of flowers. Thus, there is always a main shoot and one to several
orders of lateral shoots, the flowers being among these lateral shoots (as
they are short shoots themselves).
1) There is no such thing as an unbranched inflorescence , strictly spoken
(except if it consist only of one single flower, to anticipate the funny
Amorphophallus and other Araceae have a branched inflorescence like any
other angiosperm, the branches are just very short, so it looks very
compact, like "one".  Difficult to tell, what the branching system of
Araceae-inflorescence is, and may be not important for esthetic purposes.

Pollination unit, that operates a one entity.  The flower of Roses is a
blossom. The inflorescence of Araceae and Euphorbia is a blossom.  And (if
you whish) the strobilus of Gnetum is a blossom.  That's the safest term for
Nancy's grands children, if we teach them botany.

Schemata and definitions are elaborated in the basic botany text books.  The
most common ones:

Judd, W.S., Campbell, C.S., Kellogg, E.A., Donoghue, M.J. 2002. Plant
Systematics, A Phylogenetic Approach, 2nd Edition. Sunderland: Sinauer, ISBN
(quite good also for non-botanists, very recommended for public!)

Heywood, V.H. 1998. Flowering Plants of the World. Oxford: University Press,
ISBN 0-19-521037-9
(very popular and pretty)

Strassburger, E., Noll, F., Schenk, H., Schimper, A.F.W. 1991. Strassburger:
Lehrbuch der Botanik für Hochschulen. 33. Edition, by Sitte, P., Ziegler,
H., Ehrendorfer, F., Bresinsky, A.  Stuttgard: Gustav Fischer, ISBN
(or newer editions, very precise)

Endress, P.K. 1994. Diversity and evolutionary biology of tropical flowers.
Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press (for a deeper insight)

And for paleobibliophilics and polyglotts, and all those who want to see the
original meanings:
Eichler, A.W. 1875. Blüthendiagramme I. Leipzig: Engelmann. (there is a
reprint: 1954, Eppenhain: Koeltz)

de Candolle, A.P. 1827. Organographie végétale, ou Description Raisonée des
Organes de Plantes, Vol. 1. Paris: Déterville.

Ghee Nancy, what have you done!


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