Seed coat micromorphology of Gordonia sensu lato (including Polyspora and Laplacea; Theaceae)

L. A.A.H. Gunathilake, Jeffrey S. Prince, Barbara A. Whitlock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Species of Gordonia s.l. are characterized by having seeds with prominent flattened apical wings. However, recent molecular phylogenetic studies show that this concept of Gordonia is not monophyletic, with species occurring in two tribes of Theaceae. We examine seed coat micromophology of 14 species of Gordonia s.l., including representatives from all proposed lineages, and ten species from six genera from all three tribes of Theaceae. We observed that seeds from Gordonieae, including two species of Gordonia s.l., have irregularly protruding groups of cells on the seed coat that appear to be unique in the family. Seeds of Theeae, including all remaining species of Gordonia s.l., lack protruding cells and include testa cells that are isodiametric to elongate. Seeds of Stewartieae lack protrusions and elongate testa cells, and often have sculpting visible below the seed coat. Seeds of Gordonia s.l. from Gordonieae appear significantly smaller than species placed in Theeae. These results may help to infer relationships of fossilized seeds previously identified as Gordonia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-78
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2015


  • Gordonia
  • Laplacea
  • Polyspora
  • SEM
  • Theaceae
  • seed morphology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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