The systematic significance of the endothecium in Begoniaceae




The endothecial thickening patterns in 173 species, representing the three genera of Begoniaceae, were investigated using cleared macerated anthers. Begoniaceae contain taxa with U-shaped thickenings, perforate base plates, entire base plates, tympanate base plates, anticlinal bars, and taxa that lack endothecial thickenings. The degree of correlation between these endothecial classes and accepted taxonomic boundaries varies: some classes are confined to a single taxonomic unit (e.g. absence of thickenings, non-perforate tympanate base plates) while others are present in several taxonomic units (e.g. U-shapes, perforate base plates). This study provides an improved understanding of the diversity of endothecial patterns in a large genus and indicates that in the Begoniaceae the endothecium is of moderate systematic value within and between closely related sections in Begonia and in Symbegonia. We conclude that the endothecium exhibits high levels of homoplasy between distantly related sections of Begonia. In addition, we show that in contrast to past observations of the endothecium in dicotyledons, apical anther dehiscence in the Begoniaceae is not correlated with a loss of endothecial thickening.