Correlations among fruit traits and evolution of different fruits within Melastomataceae


*Corresponding author. E-mail:


The anatomy and morphology of nearly mature fruits in 85 mainly palaeotropical species of Melastomataceae were examined using microtome- and hand-sectioning, and differential staining. Much structural heterogeneity was observed in both capsules and berries. Mul-tivariate analyses of 31 of the 52 characters recorded for each species, revealed that indehiscence is associated with fusion of ovary and hypanthium tissues, placenta persistence, lack of a persistent endocarp, and a dearth of srlereids in these tissues, while dehiscenre is correlated with the opposite states and a persistent exocarp. Other fruit characters such as lignification or fleshiness of tissues do not show a consistent association with dehiscence. Break down of broad fruit types, such as ‘berry’ and ‘capsule’, into their individual morphological and anatomical traits shows how unusual fruit types, such as woody berries, fleshy capsules, and capsules containing fleshy placentas (display fruits), which are common in palaeotropical Melastomeae and Dissochaeteae, contribute to a loosening of expected correlations. Thus, discriminant analysis clearly differentiated display fruits from the other fruit types because of their combination of fleshy placentas with a persistent endocarp and absence of ovary/hypanthium fusion. The evolution of fruit types within Melastomataceae, and especially Dissochaeteae, and their reliability as phylogenetic indicators is discussed in the light of molecular phylogenies for these groups that show that berries and capsules evolved several times independently, explaining the observed heterogeneity of outwardly similar fruits. Fruit diversity within Melastoma, a monophyletic genus of 22 species, provides an example of the plasticity afforded by the particular construction of Melastomataceae fruits, which has contributed to ecological diversification in melastome seed dispersal.