Journal Article

Heterodichogamy in <i>Kingdonia</i> (Circaeasteraceae, Ranunculales)

Xu-mei Wang, Peng Zhang, Qing-gao Du, Hai-xia He, Liang Zhao, Yi Ren and Peter K. Endress

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 109, issue 6, pages 1125-1132
Published in print May 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online March 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Heterodichogamy in Kingdonia (Circaeasteraceae, Ranunculales)

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


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Background and Aims

Preliminary field observations in 2001 and 2002 suggested that Kingdonia uniflora (Circaeasteraceae, Ranunculales) exhibits heterodichogamy, an unusual kind of reproductive heteromorphy, hitherto unreported in Ranunculales and known from only one other genus in basal eudicots.


During several subsequent years flowers were observed in the field. Flowers were fixed in FAA and studied with microtome sections series and with the scanning electron microscope.

Key Results

The flowers proved to be heterodichogamous, with protandrous and protogynous morphs, which have a 1 : 1 ratio. Both morphs equally set fruit. Each year a single flower is formed at the tip of a rhizome or more rarely two flowers. The flowers are already open when they appear at the soil surface, before they are receptive and before pollen is dispersed. In both floral morphs the styles elongate early and the stigmas are positioned above the anthers before anthesis begins. In protogynous flowers the stigmas become receptive in this position; later the styles become reflexed and then the anthers dehisce. In contrast, in protandrous flowers the stamen filaments elongate during early anthesis such that the dehiscing anthers come to lie above the (still unreceptive) stigmas; after dehiscence of all anthers in a flower the styles begin to elongate and become receptive.


This is the first record of heterodichogamy in a representative of Ranunculales, in an herbaceous eudicot, and in a plant with uniflorous ramets. The occurrence of heterodichogamy in Kingdonia in which clonal reproduction appears to be dominant might be an adaptation to avoid mating between the ramets from a common mother individual (genet).

Keywords: Kingdonia; Circaeasteraceae; Ranunculales; heterodichogamy; reproductive heteromorphy

Journal Article.  4365 words.  Illustrated.

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

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