Botanical Description

Pterodon emarginatus Vogel (Leguminosae) is a native aromatic tree that reaches 5—10 m in height and is found throughout the Brazilian Cerrado. It is commonly known as sucupira branca, faveiro, or fava de sucupira. It is a semideciduous plant, a heliophyte, typically found dispersed irregularly and intermittently on dry land and sandy grasslands, occurring in dense clusters, and often in pure populations. Its wood is considered heavy (0.94 g/cm3 density), with compact, interlocked tissue; it is very hard, difficult to split, and long-lasting, even when in contact with soil and moisture. It is typically used in construction, shipbuilding, bridge pylons, poles, railroad ties, wagons, and wagon floors, and for coal and firewood (Lorenzi & Matos, 2000).

The tree has a large pyramidal crown that reaches 8—16 m in height, and a cylindrical trunk 30—40 cm in diameter, with smooth yellowish-white bark (Figure 129.1). Its roots occasionally form expansions or tubers, called batata de sucupira, constituting the organic reserves of the plant. Compound leaves are pinnate, with 20—36 leaflets 3—4 cm in diameter, and rose-colored flowers arranged in terminal inflorescences. The samara fruit pods are rounded, indehiscent, and winged, containing a single seed tightly secured inside a fibrous woody capsule, and held externally in an oily substance in a spongy honeycomblike structure (Lorenzi & Matos, 2000). Figure 129.2 illustrates the general aspect of P. emarginatus seeds.

P emarginatus ovules are campilotropous, crassinucelate, and bitegmic. At the hilar pole, the 1089

characteristic Faboideae seed structure develops, with double palisade layer, subhilar parenchyma, and tracheid bar. The younger nucleus shows thicker pectic cell walls, and is consumed during seed formation. The endosperm is nuclear and, after cellularization, shows peripheral cells with dense lipid content; the seeds are albuminous. The axial embryo shows fleshy cotyledons, which accumulate lipid and protein reserves; starch is rare. Although the seed structure of P. emarginatus is characteristic of the Leguminosae family, the inner integument coalesces into the outer integument without being reabsorbed. Large amounts of lipid and protein, and reduced starch reserves, are characteristic of the fleshy cotyledons of P emarginatus seeds (Oliveira & Paiva, 2005).

Recently, our group realized the cytogenetic characterization of P emarginatus seeds. The seeds were treated with 2-mM 8-hydroxyquinoline for 6 hours at room temperature, and 2n = 16 was determined as the chromosome number (unpublished data). The mitotic metaphase is illustrated in Figure 129.3.

FIGURE 129.1

Specimen representative of Pterodon emarginatus found in the Horto Florestal do Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renovâveis (IBAMA) (FLONA), in the city of Paraopeba/Minas Gerais, Brazil. Left, detail of flowers arranged in terminal inflorescences, and fruit pods (samara type); right, detail of the tree trunk. The wood is considered heavy (0.94 g/ch3 density).

FIGURE 129.1

Specimen representative of Pterodon emarginatus found in the Horto Florestal do Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renovâveis (IBAMA) (FLONA), in the city of Paraopeba/Minas Gerais, Brazil. Left, detail of flowers arranged in terminal inflorescences, and fruit pods (samara type); right, detail of the tree trunk. The wood is considered heavy (0.94 g/ch3 density).

fic Nuts and Seeds

FIGURE 129.2

General aspect of Pterodon emarginatus Vogel seeds.

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FIGURE 129.3

Mitotic metaphase of Pterodon emarginatusVogel. Sixteen pairs of chromosomes were observed. The image was obtained under light microscopy and captured by a video camera attached to the microscope (BX451, Olympus, Japan), digitized and analyzed using the Image-Proplus software (Media Cybernetics). Bar corresponds to 5 mm.

FIGURE 129.3

Mitotic metaphase of Pterodon emarginatusVogel. Sixteen pairs of chromosomes were observed. The image was obtained under light microscopy and captured by a video camera attached to the microscope (BX451, Olympus, Japan), digitized and analyzed using the Image-Proplus software (Media Cybernetics). Bar corresponds to 5 mm.

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