Intraspecific variation of flower colour and its distribution within a sea lavender, Limonium wrightii (Plumbaginaceae), in the northwestern Pacific Islands


Differentiation of flower colour is thought to be one of the most important factors promoting plant speciation. We describe the intraspecific variation of flower colour and its distribution in Limonium wrightii. We conducted a survey on 36 islands in the northwestern Pacific and discriminated six morphs of flower colour variation. Two flower colour morphs, pink and yellow, were most frequently observed, and their geographical distributions were basically allopatric. These two morphs were in contact in a narrow zone on Okinoerabu Island, located in the middle region of the Ryukyu Archipelago. In addition, orange, white, and ivory flower morphs were also found in this zone. The geographical distribution of pink and yellow morphs showed a “leapfrog” pattern; the distribution of pink flowers was divided into two areas, intercalated by the distribution of the yellow flower morph. The orange morph may have resulted from hybridization between the pink and yellow flower morphs.

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We are grateful to Drs. T.C. Huang of TAI, and to J. Murata and T. Kajita of TI, H. Nagamasu and A. Naiki of KYO, Y. Ochiai of KAG, and M. Yokota and T. Denda of RYU for help in the use of the herbaria. We are also grateful to Drs. H. Ohashi, T. Nemoto, M. Nishihira, M. Hotta, T. Yamashiro, T. Fukuda, X.Y. Zhu, Mr. H. Yamaji, K. Yoshida, Y. Uyama, Mrs. N. Nikaidoh, Drs. K. Yonekura, Y. Iwokawa, T. Kurosawa, K. Shinjo, T. Shinzato, Y. Hokama, S. Nishida, T. Nishida, H. Ota, A. Takahashi, Ms. N. Kidera and colleagues for providing useful advice. Our thanks also go to Mr. and Mrs. Taira on Okinoerabu Island., Mr. and Mrs. Kiire on Amami Island., Mr. S. F. Chen of Lanyu Island., and E. Tamaki, C. Hokama and K. Kurima for their assistance with the field work. This study was partially supported by the 21st Century COE program of the University of the Ryukyus.

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Correspondence to Shun-ichi Matsumura.

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Matsumura, Si., Yokoyama, J., Tateishi, Y. et al. Intraspecific variation of flower colour and its distribution within a sea lavender, Limonium wrightii (Plumbaginaceae), in the northwestern Pacific Islands. J Plant Res 119, 625–632 (2006).

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  • Allopatric distribution
  • Flower colour polymorphism
  • Insular plant
  • Leapfrog pattern
  • Ryukyu Archipelago
  • Subtropical