A wide diversity of epicormic structures is present in Myrtaceae species in the northern Australian savanna biome implications for adaptation to fire

Geoffrey Burrows, S.K. Hornby, David Waters, S.M. Bellairs, L.D. Prior, D.M.J.S. Bowman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research has shown that the eucalypts of southern Australia have an unusual and apparently fire-adapted epicormic structure. By studying a range of myrtaceous species from northern Australia we hoped to determine if this structure was also present in northern eucalypts. We anatomically examined the epicormic structures from 21 myrtaceous species in 11 genera from the north of the Northern Territory, Australia. An extremely wide diversity of epicormic structures was found, ranging from buds absent, buds at or near the bark surface, to bud-forming meristems in the innermost bark. These Myrtaceae species displayed a far greater variation in epicormic structure than recorded in any other family. This is possibly a reflection of the importance of the resprouter strategy, a long fire history in Australia and the ecological diversification of the Myrtaceae. Nonetheless, all the investigated eucalypts (northern and southern) possessed the same specialised, apparently fire-adapted, epicormic structure. This is remarkably consistent given the taxonomic, geographical and morphological diversity of the eucalypts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-507
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Journal of Botany
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


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