Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 297, Issue 3–4, pp 171–183 | Cite as

Comparative pollen morphology of the Iberian species of Pulicaria (Asteraceae, Inuleae, Inulinae) and its taxonomic significance

  • António Pereira Coutinho
  • Carlos F. Aguiar
  • Diana Sá da Bandeira
  • Augusto M. Dinis
Original Article


To better understand the taxonomy of Pulicaria, the pollen wall architecture of the six Iberian species were investigated using light (LM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The exine structure of Pulicaria odora was also investigated using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Statistical analysis was performed to distinguish taxonomically significant morphometric information from all the measured parameters of pollen grains. It was found that the exine sculpture characters, with special importance paid to the spines, were the most useful of all characters to define Pulicaria pollen types and separate the species. Three pollen types distinguishable through the spines morphology and the inter-spinular sculpture are described: P. microcephala pollen type (incl. P. microcephala), P. vulgaris pollen type (incl. P. vulgaris), and P. dysenterica pollen type (incl. P. dysenterica, P. odora, P. paludosa and P. sicula). A dichotomous key to these Pulicaria pollen types is proposed. The distribution of P. dysenterica, P. odora, P. paludosa and P. sicula in more than one leaf node in the classification tree reveals that the pollen grains of these species are difficult to segregate. Therefore, the construction of a satisfactory dichotomous key to the P. dysenterica pollen type species is not feasible. Yet, the different spines apex morphology between P. microcephala and P. paludosa and the existence of significant differences in five of the eight studied quantitative pollen characters of these two taxa, supports the opinion that the Berlengas Islands endemic P. microcephala should be accepted as a separate species. In addition, the differences among the spines morphology of P. vulgaris, P. microcephala, and the other four Iberian (and European) species, strengthen the conclusion that the section Pulicaria is non-monophyletic.


Exine Pulicaria Inulinae Inuleae Compositae Palynology Taxonomy 



We thank the curators of BC, BCN, COI, LISE, LISI, LISU, MA, PO and SALA for facilities in studying the herbarium vouchers. This work was supported by grants from the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT), Portugal.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • António Pereira Coutinho
    • 1
  • Carlos F. Aguiar
    • 2
  • Diana Sá da Bandeira
    • 1
  • Augusto M. Dinis
    • 1
  1. 1.(Laboratory of Electron Microscopy and Palynology) Department of Life Sciences, and Centre for Functional EcologyFaculty of Sciences and Technology, University of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  2. 2.CIMO, Mountain Research CenterPolytechnic Institute of BragançaBragançaPortugal

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