Journal Article

Morphology of Nectaries and Biology of Nectar Production in the Distylous Species <i>Fagopyrum esculentum</i>

Valerie Cawoy, Jean-Marie Kinet and Anne-Laure Jacquemart

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 102, issue 5, pages 675-684
Published in print November 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online September 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Morphology of Nectaries and Biology of Nectar Production in the Distylous Species Fagopyrum esculentum

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

The mechanisms of floral nectar production in buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum, Polygonaceae), a distylous pseudo-cereal, have received relatively little attention, prompting an investigation of the factors that regulate this process. The aim was to perform a refined study of the structures that secrete nectar and of the internal and external parameters influencing nectar volumes and sugar concentrations.


In order to control environmental parameters, plants were cultivated in growth rooms under controlled conditions. The structure of nectaries was studied based on histological sections from flowers and flower buds. Nectar was extracted using glass micropipettes and the sugar concentration was measured with a hand refractometer. Sugar concentration in the phloem sap was measured using the anthrone method. To test the influence of photosynthesis on nectar production, different light and defoliation treatments were applied.

Key Results

Unicellular trichomes were located in the epidermis at the ventral part of eight nectary glands situated on the flower receptacle alternately with stamens. Vascular bundles consisting of both phloem and xylem were identified at the boundary between a multilayered nectary parenchyma and a sub-nectary parenchyma with chloroplasts. A higher volume of nectar in thrum morphs was observed. No other difference was found in morphology or in sugar supply to inflorescences between morphs. Nectar secretion was strongly influenced by plant age and inflorescence position. Nectar volumes were higher in the upper inflorescences and during the flowering peak. Light had a dual role, (1) acting directly on reproductive structures to trigger flower opening, which conditions nectar secretion, and (2) stimulating photosynthetic activity, which regulates nectar accumulation in open flowers.


In buckwheat, nectar is secreted by trichomes and probably proceeds, at least in part, from phloem sap. Nectar secretion is strongly influenced by floral morph type, plant age, inflorescence position and light.

Keywords: Buckwheat; distyly; Fagopyrum esculentum; inflorescence position; morph comparisons; nectary histology; nectar sugar concentration; nectar volume; light intensity; organ biomass; phloem sap; plant age

Journal Article.  6494 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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