Taxonomic Significance of Seed Morphology in Veronica L. (Plantaginaceae) Species from Central Europe

Plants (Basel). 2021 Dec 28;11(1):88. doi: 10.3390/plants11010088.


In this study, 1159 seeds of 29 Central European species of the genus Veronica were analyzed based on scanning electron microscopy images. The species belonged to nine subgenera: Beccabunga, Chamaedrys, Cochlidiosperma, Pellidosperma, Pentasepalae, Pocilla, Pseudolysimachium, Stenocarpon and Veronica, following the newest phylogenetic classification of the genus. Nine measured characteristics of seeds and nine ratios were analyzed statistically using ANOVA followed by post hoc testing, cluster analysis and discriminant analysis. In most cases, the results were not congruent with the contemporary classification of the genus. Examinations of qualitative seed features by scanning electron microscopy included the cochlidiospermous or discoid seed type, the seed shape, the general sculpture of the seed coat surface, the sculpture of anticlinal and periclinal walls and some species-specific traits such as the presence of the epidermal appendix. All these features, apart from seed shape, were useful to distinguish all subgenera and some species within subgenera: Beccabunga, Chamaedrys, Pellidosperma, Pocilla (only V. filiformis) and Veronica. The identification key based on the seed micromorphological features was prepared.

Keywords: micromorphology; numerical analysis; scanning electron microscopy; seed; seed coat.