Volume 74, Issue 6 p. 792-802
Article

DEVELOPMENTAL ANATOMY OF THE STEM OF WELFIA GEORGII, IRIARTEA GIGANTEA, AND OTHER ARBORESCENT PALMS: IMPLICATIONS FOR MECHANICAL SUPPORT

Paul M. Rich

Paul M. Rich

Harvard University, Harvard Forest, Petersham, Massachusetts, 01366

Current address: Mailstop K495, HSE-12; UC Los Alamos National Laboratory; Los Alamos, NM 87545.Search for more papers by this author
First published: 01 June 1987
Citations: 28

Abstract

Changes in stem anatomy with radial position and height were studied for the arborescent palms Welfia georgii, Iriartea gigantea, Socratea durissima, Euterpe macrospadix, Prestoea decurrens, and Cryosophila albida. Vascular bundles are concentrated toward the stem periphery and peripheral bundles contain more fibers than central bundles. Expansion and cell wall thickening of fibers within vascular bundles continues throughout the life of a palm, even in the oldest tissue. Within individual vascular bundles, the fibers nearest the phloem expand first and fiber cell walls become heavily thickened. A front of expanding fibers moves outward from the phloem until all fibers within a vascular bundle are fully expanded and have thick cell walls. Peripheral vascular bundles differentiate first and inner bundles later. In the stem beneath the crown, vascular bundles and ground tissue cells show little or no size increase, but marked cell wall thickening during development for Welfia georgii. Beneath the crown, diameters of peripheral vascular bundles increase more than twofold for Iriartea gigantea, while diameters of central bundles do not increase. In Iriartea stems, ground tissue cells at the periphery elongate to accommodate expanding vascular bundles and cell walls become thickened to a lesser degree than in fibers; central ground tissue cells elongate markedly, but cell walls do not become thickened; and large lacunae form between central parenchyma cells. For Iriartea, Socratea, and Euterpe, sustained cell expansion results in limited, but significant increases in stem diameter. For all species, sustained cell wall thickening results in dramatic increases in stem stiffness and strength.