J Syst Evol ›› 1998, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (5): 441-448.

• Research Articles •

### SEM Observation on the Structure of Cuticles on Leaf Inner Surface of Abies (Pinaceae) and Its Significance in Systematics

XIANG Qiao-Ping, FU Li-Kuo

• Published:1998-09-10

Abstract: Comparative investigation of the inner surface of the needle cuticle of 36 species and 2 varieties of Abies under SEM has revealed that the characteristics of the intercellular flanges are rather distinct and four types can be distinguished: (1) Straight and developed single flange. This type is only represented by Abies bracteata D. Don. Morphologically, this species is also quite unique in the genus Abies and was once treated as a subgenus by Franco and Liu. Its special structure of the leaf cuticle observed here seems to support their treatment. (2) Double flanges. This type was first discovered in a leaf fossil of Abies from England. In modern plants of Abies, it is found only in the species from Central America. (3) Undeveloped single flange. This type is represented by a small group of Abies from the west and east coastal area of the Pacific Ocean. (4) Undulate and developed single flange. This type is represented by most of the species of Abies, including all the species in Europe and most species in Asia and North America. The flange types mentioned above seem to have some relationships with the geographical distribution of the species in the genus Abies, and their occurrence might have not been completely influenced by the habitats, hence the features of the intercellular flanges may provide good evidence for the subgeneric division of Abies. Based on our results and those from the previously published literature about the infrageneric treatments of Abies and the distribution of the fossils, we consider that western North America might be the diversity center of modern Abies. Florin once pointed out that the characters of the leaf cuticle in gymnosperms are of great significance for the generic andinfrageneric division. This viewpoint is strongly supported by our study on modern Abies.

Key words: Abies, Leaf cuticle, Systematics