Kew Bulletin

, 74:1 | Cite as

Labellar anatomy of the Nervilia plicata complex (Orchidaceae: Epidendroideae) in tropical Asia

  • Kanapol Ketjarun
  • Paweena TraipermEmail author
  • Somran Suddee
  • Santi Watthana
  • Stephan W. Gale


Nervilia plicata is a morphologically variable terrestrial orchid with a wide geographic range in tropical Asia. Several forms have previously been recognised as distinct taxa due primarily to differences in the size, outline and colour of perianth parts. As a first step towards understanding the links between floral polymorphism, pollination ecology and genetic differentiation within the N. plicata complex, we sought to ascertain whether distinct colour morphs in 18 populations in Thailand and South China were correlated with discrete differentiation in macro- or micromorphological characters. Perianth morphology was studied in the field and under stereomicroscopy, and labellum anatomy was examined using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Phenetic analyses comprising Principal Coordinate Analysis (PCoA) and Unweighted Pair Group Method with Arithmetic Mean (UPGMA) of 16 characters revealed four clusters representing distinct floral morphs — pink morph with small, entire labellum; purple morph with large, undulate labellum; white and yellow morph with large, entire labellum; and white and yellow morph with small, entire labellum — among which the size, shape, density and periclinal wall surface of dome-shaped papillae in the secretory zone of the labellar adaxial epidermis varied discontinuously. Our results provide evidence of micromorphological differentiation among N. plicata populations in parts of tropical Asia. Pollinator observations and analyses of genetic diversity are required to establish whether this variation is of any ecological, evolutionary or taxonomic significance.

Key Words

floral polymorphism lip micro-morphology pollination ecology scanning electron microscope (SEM) terrestrial orchid 



We would like to thank Phra Sakhon Thammawutho, Petch Tripetch, Jiraporn Meewasana, Khomsan Sritan, Woranuch La-ongsri, Uthen Thongnak, Sirilak Radbouchoom, Siriphong Komani, the officers at Tad Mok Waterfall, Chiang Mai, and the nuns at Wat Weluwan, Kanchanaburi, for helping us with field work and specimen collection. KK gratefully acknowledges Aporn Ketjarun, Somchai Ketjarun and the Science Achievement Scholarship of Thailand (SAST) for financial support, Wipawee Nilapaka for providing accommodation during field work, Wandee Inta, Pirada Sumanon and Panthamith Rattanakrajang for their help with data analysis, and Thaya Jenjittikul and Lalita Kethirun for supplying equipment. The authors are grateful to the editor and two anonymous referees for providing valuable comments to improve the manuscript. This project was supported by Mahidol University.


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Copyright information

© The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kanapol Ketjarun
    • 1
    • 2
  • Paweena Traiperm
    • 1
    Email author
  • Somran Suddee
    • 3
  • Santi Watthana
    • 4
  • Stephan W. Gale
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Plant Sciences, Faculty of ScienceMahidol UniversityBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Department of Pharmaceutical Botany, Faculty of PharmacyMahidol UniversityBangkokThailand
  3. 3.Forest HerbariumDepartment of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant ConservationBangkokThailand
  4. 4.School of Biology, Institute of ScienceSuranaree University of TechnologyNakhon RatchasimaThailand
  5. 5.Kadoorie Farm & Botanic GardenTai PoChina

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