Flowering biology and nectary structure of Melissa officinalis L.

Mirosława Chwil


The present study on lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L.) covered flowering biology, monitoring of pollinating insects and floral nectary structure. The micromorphology of epidermal cells of the nectary was investigated using scanning electron microscopy. The nectariferous tissues were observed using light microscopy based on semi-thin sections. Lemon balm flowered from the second decade of June until September. Buds opened from early morning hours until noon. Flowers lived for 24 hours, on the average. Their primary pollinator was the honey bee. The beginning of nectar secretion was found to be at the bud swell stage. The automorphic nectary forms a disc with four protrusions at the base of the nectary. Three smaller ones and one larger than the other ones were distinguished among them. No stomata were found on the lower protuberances, whereas on the highest part anomocytic stomata were present, the number of which was 15. The stomata exhibited different development stages and they were situated above other epidermal cells. In their outline, they were ellipsoidally shaped (18 × 23 µm) and they had average-sized cuticular ledges. They produced a smooth cuticle and wax granules. In cross section, the nectary tissues were composed of a singlelayered epidermis and 9 - 11 layers of the nectary parenchyma. Their thickness was 198 µm. In longitudinal section, the height of the nectary was within a range of 354 - 404 µm. The epidermal cells produced thin outer cell walls. Some of them were completely filled with strongly stained cytoplasm, whereas others showed a high degree of vacuolisation. But the nectary parenchyma cells were marked by poorly stained cytoplasm, a large nucleus and vacuolisation of varying degree.


Melissa officinalis; blooming; visiting insects; nectary; micromorphology; stomata; anatomy

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