The concept of a splash cup morphological structure that utilizes the force of dripping water or rain to facilitate dispersal was first documented among several fungi and non-vascular plant genera during the 1940s and 1950s. It is now recognized that there are fruits that employ splashing activity for seed dispersal in at least 15 angiosperm families. Within the Gesneriaceae this type of fruiting structure has been commented on in several Old World genera and for a few New World genera but has never been comprehensively treated. In this paper, I document for the first time this fruiting structure as potentially present in representatives from 24 genera and a minimum of 189 species across five tribes of the Neotropical Gesneriaceae. Additional notes detailing morphology and environmental conditions characteristic of splash seed dispersal in Gesneriaceae are included. The persistent calyx found in some species of gesneriads is hypothesized to assist in this splash seed dispersal morphology.
Observations on Splash Seed Dispersal Among Neotropical Gesneriaceae
Genera: Many Genera