Wood samples of 111 Vaccinieae specimens (Vaccinioideae, Ericaceae s.l.) representing 98 species and 26 genera are investigated with light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. The wood structure of Vaccinieae delivers taxonomically important characters that can be used to define some subclades within the tribe. The wood of the large polyphyletic genus Vaccinium strongly resembles non-vaccinioid members of the family, which are characterized by bordered vessel-ray pits and relatively narrow (2- to 4-seriate) and low multiseriate rays (often less than 1000 mm) with exclusively or mainly procumbent body ray cells. The East Malesian clade, Meso-American/Caribbean clade, and the Andean clade show a combination of wood anatomical features that is lacking in other representatives of the family. These features include scalariform vessel-ray pits with strongly reduced borders, a high portion of upright body ray cells, wide (4- to 14-seriate) and high multiseriate rays (often more than 3000 mm), and prismatic crystals in chambered ray cells (although absent in Symphysia racemosa). The presence of secretory ducts in the primary xylem and in the pith tissue may represent a synapomorphy for the Andean clade. Furthermore, the presence of undivided axial parenchyma cells, usually ranging from 500 to 900 mm, seems to be unique in the subfamily.

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Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden
Staff publications

Lens, F, Kron, K.A, Luteyn, J.L, Smets, E.F, & Jansen, S. (2004). Comparative wood anatomy of the blueberry tribe (Vaccinieae, Ericaceae s.l.). Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 91, 566–592.