The Botanical Review

, 72:1 | Cite as

Diversity and distribution of floral scent

  • Jette T. Knudsen
  • Roger Eriksson
  • Jonathan Gershenzon
  • Bertil Ståhl

Abstract

A list of 1719 chemical compounds identified from headspace samples of floral scent is presented. The list has been compiled from some 270 published papers, including analyses of 991 species of flowering plants and a few gymnosperms, a sample including seed plants from 90 families and 38 orders. The compounds belong to seven major compound classes, of which the aliphatics, the benzenoids and phenylpropanoids, and, among the terpenes, the mono- and sesquiterpenes, occur in most orders of seeds plants. C5-branched compounds, irregular terpenes, nitrogen-containing compounds, and a class of miscellaneous cyclic compounds have been recorded in about two-thirds of the orders. Sulfur-containing compounds occur in a third of the orders, whereas diterpenes have been reported from three orders only. The most common single compounds in floral scent are the monoterpenes limonene, (E)-β-ocimene, myrcene, linalool, α- and β-pinene, and the benzenoids benzaldehyde, methyl 2-hydroxybenzoate (methyl salicylate), benzyl alcohol, and 2-phenyl ethanol, which occur in 54–71% of the families investigated so far. The sesquiterpene caryophyllene and the irregular terpene 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one are also common and occur in more than 50% of the families. Orchidaceae are by far the best investigated family, followed by several families known to have many species with strongly scented flowers, such as Araceae, Arecaceae, Magnoliaceae, and Rosaceae. However, the majority of angiosperm families are still poorly investigated. Relationships between floral scent and pollination, chemistry, evolution, and phylogeny are briefly discussed. It is concluded that floral scent chemistry is of little use for phylogenetic estimates above the genus level, whereas the distribution and combinations of floral scent compounds at species and subspecific levels is a promising field of investigation for the understanding of adaptations and evolutionary processes in angiosperms.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jette T. Knudsen
    • 1
  • Roger Eriksson
    • 2
  • Jonathan Gershenzon
    • 3
  • Bertil Ståhl
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of EcologyLund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.Botanical InstituteGöteborg UniversityGöteborgSweden
  3. 3.Max Planck Institute for Chemical EcologyJenaGermany
  4. 4.Gotland UniversityVisbySweden

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