Evolutionary implications of seed-cone teratologies in Pseudotaxus chienii

The ovule-bearing organs of the yew family Taxaceae differ from typical conifer seed-cones in possessing a fleshy structure surrounding the ovule/seed, which is variously interpreted either as an aril or a sarcotesta.

Pseudotaxus chienii

Based on examination of anomalous teratological seed cones of Pseudotaxus and comparison with wild-type cones of both Pseudotaxus and Taxus, Dörken et al. show that the typical aril of Taxaceae could be readily interpreted as a fused pair of swollen leaves rather than a modified integument. In the teratological cones the aril was bilobed and consisted of two free halves, alternating with the lower pair of scale leaves.

Further reading

Dörken, V. M., Nimsch, H., & Rudall, P. J. (2018). Origin of the Taxaceae aril: evolutionary implications of seed-cone teratologies in Pseudotaxus chienii. Annals of Botany, 123(1), 133–143. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcy150