Development of keeled flowers
A study using scanning electron microscopy has revealed that the keeled petals of Leguminosae and Polygalaceae are fundamentally different.
25 Mar 2011
Scanning electron micrographs of dissected floral buds of Polygala violacea (left) and P. gomesiana (right) (Image: M. Angélica Bello Gutierrez).
In keeled flowers, one of the petals (or two fused petals) forms a complex hooded structure that encloses the reproductive organs. The keel can facilitate pollen presentation in cases where pollen is deposited on it.
Keeled flowers are highly characteristic of some Leguminosae and Polygalaceae, two of the four families that comprise the rosid eudicot order Fabales. Research on floral development at Kew and Reading University, conducted by former Kew PhD student Angélica Bello, shows that the characteristic crest that occurs on the keel of some Polygalaceae develops relatively late in floral ontogeny.
Despite some ontogenetic similarities, the morphologies of the two types of keeled flowers are fundamentally different, suggesting a functional convergence between these two closely related families.
Item from Dr Paula Rudall (Head of Micromorphology, RBG Kew)
Originally published in Kew Scientist, issue 38
Bello M.A., Hawkins J.A. & Rudall, P.J. (2010). Floral ontogeny in Polygalaceae and its bearing on the origin of keeled flowers in Fabales. International Journal of Plant Sciences 171: 482–498.
Scientific Research and Data
- Kew Science Project – Floral Evolution
- Kew Science Project – Monocot Floral Evolution
- Kew Science Project – Floral Evolution in Lamiales
Help Kew break new ground and inspire new generations
By making a donation to Kew today you can help our scientists to find out more about the fascinating world of plants, break new ground and inspire generations of young people to get to know plants better.
Our scientific programmes are focused on understanding plants and conserving the world's plant life and habitats at risk. Plants are essential to life on earth. In a world where the sustainability of the planet’s rich biodiversity is becoming less certain, Kew’s science work is ever more critical. Find out how your donation can make a difference.
Browse Kew news
- In the Gardens
- Science and conservation
- How you are helping
- Specialist science
- Kew blogs
- All Kew news
Keep up to date with events and news from Kew
- around the world
- the UK
- at risk
- ground breaking
- needs help
- english heritage
- Kew overseas
- verge of extinction
- wet tropics
- gifts that help
- South East Asia
- hot spot
- english garden
Follow Kew on Twitter
Unable to parse the data in the RSS file.