Post-floral perianth functionality: contribution of persistent sepals to seed development in Helleborus foetidus (Ranunculaceae)

C. M. Herrera
2005 American Journal of Botany  
The perianth persists after flowering in many plants, yet its post-floral functionality has been little investigated, and the few studies available provide ambiguous evidence. This paper tests the hypothesis that the green persistent sepals of the perennial herb, Helleborus foetidus, contribute to the plant's fitness by enhancing seed number and/or size. Post-floral contribution of the calyx to fruit and seed development was evaluated by manipulating sepal number and measuring the effect on
more » ... icle size, seed set, seeds per follicle, and mean seed mass. The allometric relationship between calyx size and follicle mass was examined for flower buds, open flowers, and immature fruits differing in follicle number. Calyx manipulation had no significant effect on follicle size, seed set, or number of seeds per follicle, but it did have a significant influence on the size of individual seeds. Calyx size and mean seed mass were positively, linearly related. The calyx mass/seed number ratio declined with increasing number of follicles per fruit. The persistent sepals of Helleborus do contribute resources to the development of seeds, although there is not evidence of post-floral allometric adjustment of the calyx mass/follicle number ratio that could compensate for variations in seed number per fruit.
doi:10.3732/ajb.92.9.1486 pmid:21646166 fatcat:atmdjakv4ndj7auyoh5ajwqfga