Wood and bark structure in Buddleja: anatomical background of stem morphology

K. E. Frankiewicz, J. H. Chau, J. Baczyński, A. Wdowiak, A. Oskolski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Bark (all tissues outside of the vascular cambium) has been extensively studied in recent years, especially its anatomy and physiology. Macromorphological bark characters can be important taxonomically for many plant groups, including the genus Buddleja (Scrophulariaceae). However, the relationship between macroscopic bark appearance and its microscopic structure remains obscure, hampering the use and interpretation of bark traits in plant taxonomy and phylogenetics as well as in other fields of botany. We studied micro- and macrostructure of bark in the species of Buddleja representing wide taxonomic and geographic diversity to identify general relationships between bark anatomy and morphology. We also examined Buddleja xylem and discussed the importance of anatomical traits for understanding the relationships between clades in this genus. The smooth bark surface in sect. Gomphostigma and the outgroup (Freylinia spp.) relates to the small number of periderms of superficial origin and limited sclerification. This allows for the retention of visible lenticels. In the rest of Buddleja, bark sloughs off and division of labour is present: collapsed phloem undergoes sclerification and acts as a protective layer, while thin-walled phellem forms the separation layers. A similar pattern is found in some groups (e.g. Lonicera), but in others (e.g. Vitis and the species of Eucalyptus with stringy bark), the pattern is inversed. Wood and bark anatomy supports a sister relationship between the southern African section Gomphostigma and the rest of Buddleja but is taxonomically uninformative among remaining clades. Limited development of periderms and sclerification allows for the retention of a smooth bark surface and conspicuous lenticels. Sloughing off of bark requires division of labour into a lignified protective layer and a thin-walled separation layer. These two functions are never served by a single tissue but are rather divided between phloem and periderm. How more subtle features (e.g. size and shape of fissures) are determined requires further study. Simultaneously, bark anatomy could be a useful source of data to complement molecular phylogenetic studies in a total evidence approach for systematics.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberplad003
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • Bark anatomy
  • Scrophulariaceae taxonomy
  • macroscopic bark structure
  • sclerification
  • wood anatomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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