Floral development and inflorescence structure within Streptocarpus and Saintpaulia were investigated using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). We discuss the structure and development of the pair-flowered cyme and the floral ontogeny found in the Gesneriaceae in a phylogenetic context with particular reference to an East African clade of Streptocarpus and Saintpaulia. Current phylogenetic hypotheses divide the caulescent East African Streptocarpus species into two distinct clades, in relation to which the position of Saintpaulia is not yet clear. Variation in the branching of the inflorescence showed phylogenetic significance and included dichasial, monochasial and unbranched patterns. In four of the East African Streptocarpus species sampled a single lateral bracteole was present on the first to third axes, after which the inflorescence was ebracteolate. Our results indicate that there may be some link between bracteole suppression and an alteration in the order of sepal initiation. The loss or suppression of lateral bracteoles also appears to result in the precocious development of the lateral cyme meristem.
Inflorescence and floral development in Streptocarpus and Saintpaulia (Gesneriaceae) with particular reference to the impact of bracteole suppression
Publication: Plant Systematics and Evolution
Genera: Saintpaulia, Streptocarpus