The Gunnera gallery:
rhizomes and cataphylls


Images and an introduction to the plant family Gunneraceae

Plant parts

Biogeography

Fossils

'Gunneralikes'

 

 

Cataphylls of G. insignis (syn. G. killipania)

 

The deeply serrate cataphylls, modified leaved (which have sometimes been called "ligules" for their tongue-like appearance) that sheath the growing apex of Gunnera manicata. Behind the protection of these structures the plant produces a clear mucilage which keeps its apex moist and which attract soil caynobacteria, some of which come to live as symbionts with the Gunnera stem fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere. This symbiosis means that Gunnera can grow in nitrate poor soils, such as sandy bogs and rocky cliffs. 

This pictures of Gunnera perpensa show new leaves emerging from a network of fleshy rhizomes. The picture below shows the growing apex with small protective cataphylls.

At right is the rhizome and emerging infloresence of Gunnera monoica (UC Berkeley Botanic Garden).

Subgenera

Biogeography

Fossils

Some literature

 

Cataphylls of G. insignis (syn. G. killipania)