Survey of the Menispermaceae endocarps

Frédéric M. B. JACQUES

en Adansonia 31 (1) - Pages 47-87

Published on 26 June 2009

Menispermaceae endocarps were very much used for long in the classification of this family. This organ also presents a definite palaeobotanical interest as it is often present in fossil state. The lack of a detailed knowledge on the endocarps of extant Menispermaceae limits the identification of those fossils. The present paper tries to fill this lack, describing endocarps of 116 species belonging to 55 different genera. The whole Menispermaceae family has drupaceous fruits, but there is an important morphological diversity of the endocarps, the differences between affiliated species being sometimes very slight. However, the comparisons with molecular phylogenies show that the differences between endocarps have a phylogenetic significance, to some extent. Menispermaceae endocarps are straight or underwent an often important curvature during their development. Almost all of these endocarps show a peculiar structure known as a condyle, which can have different aspects. Some characters, such as the endosperm structure and the style scar position on the pericarp, depend of endocarp characters, at least partially and with a few exceptions. Hypotheses on endocarp adaptation are limited by the lack of knowledge on the seed dispersal of this family. A key of the studied genera is proposed.
Keywords :
Menispermaceae, fruit, endocarp, condyle
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