The structure of floral elements of Anchusa officinalis L. creating attractants for insects

Mirosława Chwil, Elżbieta Weryszko-Chmielewska


The present study involved the measurement of size and the micromorphology of the floral elements of Anchusa officinalis L. which are attractants for insects. The structure of the epidermis on the surface of the calyx, petals, throat scales, pistil and nectary were analysed using light and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). For light microscopy observations, semi-permanent slides were prepared, which were treated with Lugol's iodine solution, Sudan III and fluoroglucine. The dark violet lobes of the corolla of Anchusa officinalis, with a velvety surface, and the throat scales, contrasting with them, belong to the most important optical attractants which lure insects from large distances. The dark pink colouring of the sepals additionally increases the attractiveness of the flowers. The epidermis covering the calyx formed different-sized non-glandular trichomes as well as glandular trichomes. The glandular trichomes were composed of a uni - or bicellular leg and a unicellular head. The colour of the corolla petals was determined by anthocyanins accumulated in the epidermal cells and in the more deeply situated parenchyma. The velvety surface was formed by the conical papillae, densely growing from the adaxial epidermis. The pink-violet throat scales with white hairs, covering the inlet to the tube of the corolla, were found at the inlet to the corolla throat. The longest trichomes on the surface of the scales were located in their lower and middle parts, whereas the shortest ones at their tips. The epidermis of the central part of the throat scales formed small papillae. The trichomes had thin cell walls, large vacuoles, numerous plastids and lipid droplets. The two-parted stigma of the pistil was covered by characteristic expanded outgrowths with wavy edges which performed the functions of structures facilitating the capture of pollen grains. As a result of the present study it was found that the structures affecting the attractiveness of the flowers, through various light effects within the corolla of Anchusa officinalis, include the papillae on the corolla surface, trichomes of the throat scales and the epidermal cells of the style. The trichomes of the scales can also be responsible for protecting pollen and nectar against rainfall.


micromorphology; sepals; petals; scales; stamens; stigma; pollen grains

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