Elaiophore diversity in three contrasting members of Oncidiinae (Orchidaceae)


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The elaiophores of Trichocentrum cavendishianum (Bateman) M.W. Chase & N.H. Williams, Oncidium loefgrenii Cogn., and Gomesa recurva R. Br. display considerable morphological and anatomical diversity. Oil secretion by flowers of T. cavendishianum and O. loefgrenii can be related to the presence of saddle-like, labellar elaiophores and the labellar callus, respectively, whereas, in G. recurva, although oil is present, no obvious structure appears to be involved in its secretion. In the first two species, the secretory tissue consists of palisade-like cells, whereas, in G. recurva, these cells are oval. Many Oncidiinae are thought to mimic members of the Malpighiaceae, and the elaiophores of that family also contain palisade-like cells that may indicate evolutionary convergence. As oils accumulate below the elaiophore cuticle, that of T. cavendishianum becomes distended, whereas that of the other two species does not. Full discharge of oil from the elaiophores of T. cavendishianum probably occurs only after the cuticle is ruptured by a visiting insect, and this may contribute towards pollinator selection. © 2007 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2007, 155, 135–148.