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Keywords:

  • mechanical strength;
  • photosynthates;
  • physiological plant anatomy;
  • wood anatomy;
  • xylem

Bordered pits occur in walls of living ray cells of numerous species of woody dicotyledons. The occurrence of this feature has been minimally reported because the pits are relatively small and not easily observed in face view. Bordered pits are illustrated in sectional view with light microscopy and with scanning electron microscopy in face view for dicotyledonous and gnetalean woods. Bordered pits are more numerous and often have prominent borders on tangential walls of procumbent ray cells, but also occur on radial walls; they are approximately equally abundant on tangential and horizontal walls of upright cells, suggesting parallels to cell shape in flow pathway design. Axial parenchyma typically has secondary walls thinner than those of ray cells, but bordered pits or large simple pit areas occur on some cross walls of parenchyma strands. There is no apparent correlation between the phylogenetic position of species and the presence of borders in ray cells or axial parenchyma. Bordered pits represent a compromise between maximal mechanical strength and maximal conductive capability. High rates of flow of sugar solutions may occur if starch in ray cells or axial parenchyma is mobilized for sudden osmotic enhancement of the conductive stream or for rapid development of foliage, flowers, or fruits. Measurement of the secondary wall thickness of ray cells may offer simple inferential information about the role that rays play in the mechanical strength of woods. © 2007 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2007, 153, 157–168.