Field of Science

This week's lab - angiosperm leaf diversity

Not only do flowering plants have a tremendous diversity of leaf shapes and forms, they are adapted to many different habitats and they have specialized for many other purposes as well.  First all those floral parts are modified leaves. Then there are all the other funky things angiosperms have done with leaves: protection, coevolution, traps, succulent leaves, vestigial leaves, climbing aids (tendrils, grappling hooks), attraction, flotation, xerophytic leaves.  Why this will be just like a leaf scavenger hunt through the glasshouse, and that's good because the weather outside is appalling: wintery mix (April 23d) at just above freezing.  Here's a nice tropical leaf with adaptations for dealing with heavy rainfall: a drip tip and vein gutters.  Both help shed water quickly.  So what plant has this leaf? 

9 comments:

Arati said...

some variety of the betel leaf?

Bamboo Dreams said...

To me it looked more like black pepper leaf, especially with the vines behind. But, could very well be betel

The Phytophactor said...

Not a Piper, neither species.

Laurent said...

Dioscoreaceae?
;)

The Phytophactor said...

If you are who you are, then I yam what I yam.

Laurent said...

Well, I'm working on these critters so maybe I shouldn't play the game...

The stem seems round enough that I wonder if this is a D. alata or rather some other species. D. alata are very diverse in stem shape and ornaments, and this leaf really look like ones I'm collecting in the fields.

The Phytophactor said...

While a bit uncertain, it's always been called D. bulbifera.

Unknown said...

Does your plant make "Air Potatoes"?
Dioscorea bulbifera certainly does, and it can be a serious weed in warmer climates. I could find you a "more botanical" link but this one seems to cover the basics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dioscorea_bulbifera Your plant seems to have a more exaggerated drip tip on its leaf than D. bulbifera (humble amateur botanist opinion - YMMV) My favourite Dioscorea is D. elephantipes. It will grow outdoors year round here in Adelaide, but you would DEFINITELY need to keep it in a glasshouse in the winter

Ciao, KK.

The Phytophactor said...

Yes, this plant makes aerial tubers. Thanks for the information. Without doubt it's weed.