Plasticfruits, part 2: Polygalaceae

...continued from

In part 1, I described how evolutionarily plastic the fruits are in a mainly southern African genus (Osteospermum) of daisies (Asteraceae).

The genus Muraltia (Polygalaceae) is geographically and ecologically similar to Osteospermum despite belonging to an unrelated family (

Like Osteospermum, Muraltia ( and and and contains wind-dispersed, ant-dispersed ( and and vertebrate-dispersed species.

Although in both genera the seeds have food-bodies attached to them to attract ants, these take different forms. In Osteospermum the food-body is the mesocarp that envelops the seed, but in Muraltia it is a handle-like edible attachment called an elaiosome ( and

The bright-hued fleshy fruits of Muraltia spinosa and Muraltia scoparia seem adapted for dispersal and sowing mainly by tortoises such as Chersina angulata ( Unlike those of Osteospermum moniliferum, they remain crisp when ripe and tend to fall to the ground.

Muraltia spinosa

Muraltia scoparia

In the case of both Muraltia and Osteospermum, the species dispersed and sown by vertebrates were for several decades classified as separate genera, based on the form of the fruits ( This has since been corrected with the taxonomic realisation that fruits are too adaptable to be reliable indicators of phylogenetic affinity.

to be continued in

Posted on February 19, 2022 02:09 AM by milewski milewski


Add a Comment

Sign In or Sign Up to add comments