, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 356–362 | Cite as

Evolutionary trends in the Central American species of Piper (Piperaceae)

  • William C. Burger


The gross morphology of the Central American species ofPiper is surveyed in respect to habit and habitat, protection of the shoot-tip, form and condensation of the inflorescence and floral parts, and anther-dehiscence. The cap-like structure covering the shoot-tip in many species is interpreted as a modified prophyll. A ligulate development and the inclusion of the inflorescence within the sheathing leaf-base in a few species are discussed. Diminution and compaction of the floral parts are interpreted as an evolutionary response to the activities of small pollen-collecting bees. Compaction of the floral parts is correlated with a truncation of the pistil apex and, in a few species, with a change in the mode of anther dehiscence. Apical and upward dehiscence of the anthers are interpreted as similar adaptations caused by a restriction of the pollinator’s activity to the surface of the spike. A relationship between ants and certain hollow-stemmed species is mentioned. The multiple origins and independent lines of evolutionary development discussed here suggest a complex phyletic history of the genus.


Evolutionary Trend Floral Morphology Flower Part Floral Part Flowering Node 
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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • William C. Burger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyField Museum of Natural HistoryChicago

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