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.