Optical and anatomical characteristics of bracts from the Chinese "glasshouse" plant, Rheum alexandrae Batalin (Polygonaceae), in Yunnan, China
Bracts that lacked chlorophyll were compared with rosette leaves on the Chinese glasshouse plant Rheum alexandrae Batalin. The structures were analyzed anatomically and with photospectrometry. Histological features were significantly different between the bracts and the rosette leaves. Epidermal pavement cells and palisade cells were larger in the bracts than in the rosette leaves, but the ratio of the intercellular spaces to the cells in the palisade layer was the same in the two structures. Absorption spectrum analyses of the half-translucent bracts showed that, despite their thinner structure, they absorbed ultraviolet (UV) radiation more efficiently than did the green rosette leaves. The characteristics of the R. alexandrae bracts were different from those of the Himalayan glasshouse plant Rheum nobile. These results suggest that R. alexandrae evolved bracts as an adaptive strategy to protect the inflorescence from UV radiation.
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