Journal of Arid Land


In this study, we provide the first evidence of two pairs of petals of the rapidly expanded and short-lived nocturnal flowers of Capparis spinosa L. (caper) during the prolonged drought period in Eastern Mediterranean region. The corolla of the winter-deciduous, perennial C. spinosa consists of two pairs of petals: a pair of white distinct petals and a pair of connate variegated petals with green basal parts. The results indicated the presence of substantially different amounts of chlorophyll in the two pairs of petals, while their carbohydrates’ content is comparable with that of the green sepals. High resolution imaging of petal surfaces of short-lived flowers of C. spinosa, obtained by using scanning electron microscopy, revealed stomata on the adaxial epidermis on both the white and the green parts of the variegated petals; while dense hairs were found on the surface of the abaxial green parts of the variegated petals. Adaxial, epidermal cells of the variegated petals, viewed using atomic force microscopy, possess a submicron, cuticular microfolding that differs between the white and the green parts of the petals. It appears that microridges on the adaxial, white parts of petals of C. spinosa compensate for an increase in cell surface area of the short lived petals, while the roughness of the green parts of petals was found to be higher than that of the white parts. Thus, the micromorphology of surfaces of epidermal cells is expected to affect optical properties and wettability of the floral tissues. These findings may be particularly important for understanding the performance of the short-lived petals of C. spinosa, which are exposed to dryland environments.

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