“Hairy” bark in Lannea schweinfurthii (Anacardiaceae): hyperhydric-like tissue formed under arid conditions

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ABSTRACT

A remarkable, almost fur-like “indumentum” of velvety “hairs” (sometimes referred to as “fungi”) occurs on the roots (and to a lesser extent also on the trunk) of Lannea schweinfurthii var. stuhlmannii and is known as vhulivhadza in the Venda language (Tshivenḓa). The hairs are traditionally used by the Venda people (Vhavenḓa) of the Limpopo Province of South Africa, for various biocultural purposes. A detailed anatomical study of the origin, structure and development of these unusual “hairs” showed that they are of peridermal origin and develop from dense clusters of phelloid cells which are scattered within the stratified phellem. These cells are capable of considerable radial elongation thus forming hair-like radial files of elongated phelloid cells. The “hairy” patches on the bark may also develop from lenticels which become hypertrophied. These clusters of phelloid cells resemble the hyperhydric tissue which is reportedly formed in periderm of stems exposed to a water-saturated environment in some plant species. The formation of hyperhydric-like tissue in roots and stems of L. schweinfurthii var. stuhlmannii occurs, however, under relatively arid conditions. Since this tissue contains large intercellular spaces, it may also be regarded as a specialized type of aerenchymatous phellem. The adaptive significance, if any, of the phelloid “hairs” remains unknown.

“Hairy” bark in Lannea schweinfurthii (Anacardiaceae): hyperhydric-like tissue formed under arid conditions

in IAWA Journal

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References

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Figures

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    Root “hairs” of Lannea schweinfurthii var. stuhlmannii. – A: Matchbox with the “hairs” sold by the Vhavenḓa people in the traditional market in the Limpopo province, South Africa. – B & C: Exposed root with “hairy” patches on the lower part. Golden brown “hairy” patches below the soil surface are indicated by arrows. – D: “Hairs” collected from the root bark.

  • View in gallery

    Bark on the trunk of Lannea schweinfurthii var. stuhlmannii. – A: The tree near Shakadza village from which the bark was examined in the present study. – B: Portion of the trunk exposed to regular moisture resulting from runoff after rain. – C–E: Patch of “hairs” (h) with flat solid remnants of phellem (p) and lenticels (L) on the bark surface shown at different magnifications.

  • View in gallery

    Transverse sections of bark of Lannea schweinfurthii var. stuhlmannii. – A: Cortex and epidermis with multicellular dendritic trichome from young stem; subepidermal initiation of phellogen (arrow). – B: Freehand section of root periderm under fluorescence microscope showing stratified phellem with lignified U-shaped cells (white arrows). – C: Mature bark from trunk showing secondary phloem (sp) with phloem rays (r) and multilayered phelloderm (pd) with prismatic crystals (asterisks) and clusters of sclereids (s).

  • View in gallery

    Transverse sections (freezing microtome) of the trunk bark of Lannea schweinfurthii var. stuhlmannii showing the formation of “hairy” patches in periderm. – A–F: Unstained sections. – A: Bark with secondary phloem (sp), phelloderm (pd) and phellem (p) with a cluster of phelloid cells (ph) in early stage of its formation. – B: Periderm with phelloderm (pd) containing prismatic crystals (white arrows) and phellem (p) with a cluster of elongated phelloid cells (ph) in early stage development. – C & D: “Hairy” patch in a slightly later stage of development. The relationship between ordinary phellem cells (p) and phelloid cells (ph) is evident. – E & F: Strands of elongated phelloid cells forming multicellular “hairs” with a somewhat jointed appearance. – G & H: Stained sections. “Hairy” patch in late stage of development under different magnifications. – G: The series of cells forming the hairs are numbered.

  • View in gallery

    Transverse sections (ultramicrotome) of the root periderm of Lannea schweinfurthii var. stuhlmannii showing the formation of “hairy” patches. – A & B: Early stage in formation of the phelloid cell clusters (ph) in phellem; phellem cells with lignified U-shaped walls (U) and phelloderm (pd) are also visible. – C: Cluster with somewhat radially expanded phelloid cells (ph). – D–F: Clusters with strands of considerably elongated phelloid cells (ph). – F: Phelloid cells between layers of ordinary phellem cells (p).

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    Transverse sections of the root periderm (hand sections) under scanning electron microscope of Lannea schweinfurthii var. stuhlmannii. – A & B: Well-developed phelloid “hairs” (ph), ordinary phellem (p) and phelloderm (pd). – C: Multicellular phelloid “hairs” with a somewhat jointed appearance.

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