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Passiflora Supersect. Pterosperma


Passiflora Supersect. Pterosperma (L. Gilbert & J. M. MacDougal) J. M. MacDougal & Feuillet. Passiflora 13(2): 37. 2003 [2004]. Basionym: Passiflora sect. Pterosperma L.E. Gilbert & J. M. MacDougal. Novon 13(4): 459. 2003.


Medium-sized woody vines to canopy lianas; stem and abaxial surface of leaves puberulent as seedlings, the erect trichomes sometimes glandular, lightly puberulent to glabrous at maturity; stems terete, pith chambered, posture of shoot tip cernuous; stipules extremely reduced, caducous; petioles (0)1–11-glandular; laminas narrowly ovate to (very) widely ovate, conspicuously peltate in one species, with conduplicate ptyxis, entire, acute to abruptly acuminate (rarely obtuse), variegated adaxially or not in juveniles, usually glaucous abaxially, laminar nectaries present submarginally, or absent; prophylls of vegetative bud 2, colateral; tendrils in seedlings distally swollen and adhesive in at least one species; peduncle 1 per node, bearing both a tendril and 1or 2 pedicels, these often branched so that the inflorescence is (1)2–6-flowered, the tendril expressed in the inflorescence sometimes aborting, the common peduncle sometimes reduced to nearly nothing so that the pedicels appear to arise from the leaf axils; bracts 3 per first order pedicel, 0.8–3.5 mm long, narrowly triangular to linear-lanceolate; floral stipe (pedicel distal to articulation) conspicuous, 9–42 mm long; flowers white with a yellow or white outer corona, this with a purplish red band or not; sepals and petals subequal, 17–25 mm long, coronal filaments in (2)3–4 series, the outermost 9–20 mm long, the inner 1.5–8 mm long; operculum plicate; androgynophore 7–14 mm; ovary puberulent to densely pubescent; fruit 4–6 cm in diameter, conspicuously stipitate, inflated, the pericarp very thin and leathery to parchment-like; seeds 6–12 mm x 5–11 mm, the testa reticulate in center and surrounded by striate wings with erose to laciniate margins, the chalazal beak antiraphal; pollen 6-colporate; chromosome number n=9 (one species known). Germination epigeal.

The four rather similar species of supersection Pterosperma are uncommon lianas of primary moist to wet tropical forest. Three of the four are known to be the sole host/food plant in their geographical area for the larvae of the uncommon heliconiid butterfly, Eueides lineata (Mallet and Longino, 1982; Knapp and Mallet, 1984; Meerman, 1999). The stipules of each species are minute and deciduous, the new growth is cernuous, the minute laminar nectaries are submarginal when present, and the inflorescence type is the primitive state for the genus, i.e., a pedunculate dichasial cyme with the central pedicel modified to be a tendril. The white flowers have the characteristics of a bee-pollination syndrome, and indeed, one is known to be bee-pollinated. Each species has similar unusual marginally winged seeds, hence the name of the section. The possible function of the wings is unknown, but may related to the wide aril covering each seed or how it is removed during dispersal. The arils and the shape, color, and persistence of the fruits are known for two of the four species of this section, and suggest dispersal by frugivorous bats (Gilbert and MacDougal, 2000). [Images under construction].

Included species Distribution Silicagel DNA isolated # genes sequenced
Passiflora eueidipabulum Costa Rica, Panama      
Passiflora lancetillensis Belize, Honduras Yes Yes 5
Passiflora microstipula Mexico Yes Yes 5
Passiflora pedicellaris Guatemala      

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