Original Research

Extrafloral nectaries in Combretaceae: morphology, anatomy and taxonomic significance

P. M. Tilney, A. E. van Wyk
Bothalia | Vol 34, No 2 | a426 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v34i2.426 | © 2004 P. M. Tilney, A. E. van Wyk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 September 2004 | Published: 03 September 2004

About the author(s)

P. M. Tilney, Department of Botans. Rand Afrikaans University, South Africa
A. E. van Wyk, H.G.WJ. Schweickerdt Herbarium. Department of Bolany. University of Pretoria, South Africa

Full Text:



Extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) in members of the Combretaceae are nectaries not involved with pollination and occurring on vegetative structures; they are believed to attract ants to protect plants against herbivorv by other insects. In the Combretaceae EFNs are reported in species of Terminalia L. and Pteleopsis Engl., putative EFNs in Meiostemon Exell & Stace and Quisqualis L., and an absence of EFNs in Combretum Loefl. and Lumnitzera Willd. EFNs in the family are generally spherical in shape and may be raised, level with the surface or somewhat concave. They are similar in the Terminalia and  Pteleopsis species where they display varying degrees of internal zonation and are composed of small cells; those species observed in the field were all found to have functional EFNs. In Meiostemon tetrandrum (Exell) Exell & Stace, Quisqualis indica L.. Q. littorea (Engl.) Exell and Q. paviflora Gerrard ex Sond.. apparent EFNs lack internal zonation and are composed of enlarged cells; confirmation is required as to whether these are functional . The formation of EFNs appears to be highly flexible. They are usually essentially associated with new growth but their occurrence is sporadic and they do not appear on every leaf or every' branch of a plant. The distribution of EFNs on leaves, when present, is of taxonomic significance to separate species of Pteleopsis and Terminalia: otherwise the presence or absence and distribution of EFNs are too variable and sporadic in occurrence to be of taxonomic significance at the species level. Indiscriminate use of the terms gland and domatium instead of EFN. and possible confusion with damage caused by other organisms, has probably con­tributed to many of these structures not previously being recorded as EFNs. Floral and extrafloral nectar samples of T. phanerophlebia Engl. & Diels differed in sugar composition.


anatomy; Combretaceae; extrafloral nectary; Laguncularia C.F.Gaertn.; <i>Lumnitzera</i> Willd.. Meiostemon Exell & Stace. morphology; Pteleopsis Engl.; <i>Quisqualis</i> L.; <i>Terminalia</i> L.


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