research.gif (2985 bytes) Dr. Gary Coté, Professor of Biology


Crystal Idioblasts in the Flowers of Aroids

An entire book has been written on the structure of the leaves and stems of plants in the Aroid family, including their crystals (Anatomy of the Monocotyledons.  IX.  Acoraceae and Araceae by R. C. Keating, 2002).  However, very little has been published, that I can find, on crystals in the flowering tissues.  We have been looking at plants from various genera throughout the family, looking for crystals in the flowering tissues. 


We have examined aroids from greenhouses, private homes, and the wild.  So far, besides Dieffenbachia, we have examined Anthurium (3 secies), Spathiphyllum (peace lily), Arisaema (Jack-in-the-pulpit), and Symplocarpus (skunk cabbage).  We were also able to collect material from Virginia Tech's titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) when it bloomed in 2004.  This species has the largest unbranched inflorescence of any plant in the world.

Andrea McConnachie, Brad Howard and Bob Mills have helped with this project, and Kristina Webb (right, with Anthurium andraeanum) did all the work so far on the genus Anthurium.

Below, a (so-far) unidentified species of Anthurium from the RU greenhouse.  The top pictures show leaves and the inflorescence.  The bottom pictures show male (left) and female (right) flowers under polarization microscopy to reveal the crystals.


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