Vegetative morphology and trait correlations in 54 species of Commelinaceae

Jean H. Burns, Pablo Munguia, Benjamin E. Nomann, Sarah J. Braun, Casey P. Terhorst, Thomas E. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The morphospace of 54 species of Commelinaceae from nine genera was examined with simultaneous attention to constraints, adaptive hypotheses and relatedness. Eleven morphological traits, including leaf length and width, angle between the leaves and internode distances, were measured for each species and analysed by principal components analysis and nested analysis of variance. The results revealed a significant signal of relatedness in vegetative morphology; genus explained 20-50% of the variance in a single trait. The relationships between some traits are consistent with adaptive explanations. The findings are consistent with the prediction that evolution for optimal phyllotaxis should be relaxed as self-shading decreases, and that light availability governs leaf size and branching patterns. Constraints potentially explain some trait correlations, and support was found for the hypothesis that structural constraints govern leaf size and internode size correlations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-268
Number of pages12
JournalBotanical Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Comparative study
  • Constraint
  • Leaf size
  • Morphospace
  • Phyllotaxis
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant architecture
  • Shape


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