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Keywords:

  • floral morphology-;
  • heterostyly-;
  • polymorphism-;
  • sexual system

Heterostyly typically involves reciprocal polymorphism in stamen and style lengths, physiological self- and intramorph-incompatibility, and a set of associated polymorphisms of pollen and stigma characters. This study examined floral morphology and compatibility relationships in the monotypic, herbaceous perennial Decodon verticillatus (Lythraceae). There have been conflicting reports on the occurrence of tristyly in the species, probably because of frequent loss of style morphsm from populations in parts of the species' range. Floral morphology was examined using material collected from natural populations throughout the range. Detailed floral measurements revealed discrete trimorphism in style length and anther positioning in three populations. Data from two dimorphic populations showed similar patterns of floral polymorphism, except that both were missing the mid-styled morph. In one dimorphic population, there was evidence for modification in the length of mid-level stamens. Measurements in three populations indicated pronounced floral variability, including high frequencies of modified phenotypes with reduced stigma-anther separation. Pollen size was only weakly differentiated among anther levels, and there were no differences in pollen production among anther levels or morphs. In contrast, stigma size and papilla length showed a strong negative correlation with style length; a pattern opposite to most heterostylous species. Experimental crosses performed under glasshouse conditions on plants from two populations showed a high degree of both self- and intramorph-compatibility. A comparative analysis of floral morphology showed that D. verticillatus is not unusual in terms of the precision and reciprocity of organ positioning compared with 13 other tristylous species.