Meristic variation in Potamogeton flowers



Flowers of Potamogeton normally have a completely tetramerous plan. Deviations from this norm occur quite commonly in the uppermost flowers of the inflorescence; these variations have been reported before and usually involve a reduction in number of parts. Cases have now been found where the gynoecium of all or many flowers differs from the normal tetracarpellate arrangement; some species regularly have fewer and others more than four carpels. The developmental bases of meristic variation have been explored and quantitative studies of gynoecia and developing gynoecia have been undertaken. The data are used to evaluate the control and correlation of floral development in Potamogeton in general, and in particular the relationship between the gynoecium and the rest of the flower. The developing flower passes through two successive phases of organ initiation: one in which the perianth and stamen primordia arise, and one in which the gynoecial primordia arise. There seems to be little developmental relationship between the two phases except phyllotactic continuity. During the perianth/stamen phase each stamen primordium arises directly above a perianth member, and the presence of a perianth member seems to be a prerequisite for initiation of the stamen. The perianth/stamen phase seems to be rather stable so that normally four perianth/stamen associations are initiated, except in flowers at the tip of the inflorescence. In the gynoecial phase the number of carpel primordia initiated seems to depend on the relative size of carpel primordia and floral apex, and on whether or not the floral apex continues to grow while initiating carpel primordia.