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Certain dicotyledon families characteristically have tracheids as their imperforate tracheary element type. Of these, six families are anomalous by having septate (or nonseptate but living) fiber-tracheids or libriform fibers coexisting with the tracheids in some species or genera (Austrobaileyaceae, Celastraceae, Convolvulaceae, Ericaceae, and Grossulariaceae, and Rosaceae). Data from the literature and original data on wood anatomy of these families are presented. A theory of tracheid dimorphism is developed to account for these instances of tracheids combined with fiber-tracheids or libriform fibers. According to this theory, septate or living fiber-tracheids or libriform fibers are produced in addition to tracheids, starting with ancestors that contain tracheids as the only imperforate tracheary element type, in response to selection for a rapidly increased photosynthate storage capacity, while maintaining the advantage of tracheids in providing conductive safety. Borders are phyletically lost rapidly on the septate (or nonseptate but living) imperforate tracheary elements because they are not water-conducting cells. Genera cited in this stud y can be ranged into a phyletic series with respect to differentiation from the hypothetical monomorphic-tracheid ancestors with respect to (I) loss of borders on pits of the septate or living elements; (2) distribution of tracheids with respect to vessels; and (3) retention of axial parenchyma. Austrobaileya is the most primitive genus in these respects, while genera such as Holodiscus and Spiraea are specialized. Tracheid dimorphism is compared to vessel dimorphism, fiber-tracheid dimorphism, fiber dimorphism, and the dimorphism related to origin of vessels. All these pathways except the last named one are confined to small numbers of families, and are considered minor trends superimposed on the major trends described by I. W. Bailey and coworkers. Basic to all of the dimorphic behaviors described is selection for two divergent cell types as a way of performing two distinctive wood functions.

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© 1988 Sherwin Carlquist

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