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Wood Structure and Generic Status of Some Southern African Cassinoideae (Celastraceae)

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Opinions differ on whether to treat Cassine in southern Africa in a wide sense, or to recognise several segregate genera, such as Elaeodendron, Crocoxylon, Lauridia, Mystroxylon and Cassine s. str. A comparative anatomical study was made of mature wood representing 17 southern African species of Cassine s.l., Pleurostylia and the three monotypic genera, Allocassine, Hartogiella and Maurocenia (all members of the subfamily Cassinoideae). The wood structure is described with emphasis on the taxonomic value of quantitative and qualitative characters. Various features were found to be diagnostic at supraspecific level. The presence or absence of scalariform perforation plates, septate fibres, various ray types, and additional quantitative characters could be useful for taxonomic application, especially for generic delimitation. Three principal wood types, of which one encompasses three subtypes, are recognised among the species examined. Wood anatomical evidence tells against a wide generic concept for Cassine, and favours the recognition of segregate genera.


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