Morphological Variation in Leaf Dissection of Rheum palmatum Complex PolygonaceaeReport as inadecuate




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Aims

Rheum palmatum complex comprises all taxa within section Palmata in the genus Rheum, including R. officinale, R. palmatum, R. tanguticum, R. tanguticum var. liupanshanense and R. laciniatum. The identification of the taxa in section Palmata is based primarily on the degree of leaf blade dissection and the shape of the lobes; however, difficulties in species identification may arise from their significant variation. The aim of this study is to analyze the patterns of variation in leaf blade characteristics within and among populations through population-based sampling covering the entire distribution range of R. palmatum complex.

Methods

Samples were taken from 2340 leaves from 780 individuals and 44 populations representing the four species, and the degree of leaf blade dissection and the shape of the lobe were measured to yield a set of quantitative data. Furthermore, those data were statistically analyzed.

Important Findings

The statistical analysis showed that the degree of leaf blade dissection is continuous from lobed to parted, and the shape of the lobe is also continuous from broadly triangular to lanceolate both within and between populations. We suggested that taxa in section Palmata should be considered as one species. Based on the research on the R. palmatum complex, we considered that the quantitative characteristics were greatly influenced by the environment. Therefore, it is not reliable to delimitate the species according to the continuously quantitative vegetative characteristics.



Author: Xu-Mei Wang , Xiao-Qi Hou, Yu-Qu Zhang, Yan Li

Source: http://plos.srce.hr/



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