Vincetoxicum indicum (Burm.f.) Mabb. - a case of transient abnormal secondary thickening in stem
Vincetoxicum indicum (Burm.f.) Mabb. (Syn. Tylophora indica (Burm.f.) Merr., T. asthmatica W. &A.), an important twining medicinal plant of India, was found to show a transient anomalous secondary thickening to facilitate the twisting of stem around a support. The very young stem had a continuous primary xylem cylinder, the protoxylem of which differentiated to two large bundles on the opposing sides and many smaller bundles in between. In the initial stages of maturation, the cambium outside the two large protoxylem groups behaved abnormally in producing more phloem outwards and little or no secondary xylem inwards to produce two wedge shaped phloem groups on opposite sides. The production of crescent shaped secondary xylem on the other two sides which fell at a right-angled plane resulted in bulging of these sides away from the anomalous cambium to create a rectangular stem having two broad sides which were used as the facing sides of stem against a support. As soon as the twisting nature was established, the anomaly was reversed and the anomalous cambial patches started behaving normally to produce a complete ring of secondary xylem. As this abnormal behaviour happened only during the twisting of stem, this is considered as an adaptational anomalous secondary thickening.
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