Morphological Variation and Palynomorphology of Rosa laxa in Xinjiang, China

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

Rosa laxa is widely distributed in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China and is highly adaptable and rich in variation. In this study, we investigated the morphology, habitats, and palynomorphology of R. laxa botanical varieties from Xinjiang, China. In addition to R. laxa var. laxa, there were three other botanical varieties of R. laxa growing in southern Xinjiang, including var. mollis, var. kaschgarica, and var. tomurensis. Together, these four botanical varieties exhibited morphological variation, mainly in the morphology of prickles and the glandular trichome and in flower color. The pollen grains of the R. laxa botanical varieties, all medium in size (21.77–48.39 μm), came in three shapes: perprolate, prolate, and subspheroidal. Their pollen exine sculptures were characterized by either a striate-perforation pattern or striate pattern, but perforation varied in terms of diameter and density and striae varied in depth and density. Palynomorphological assessment showed that three types of evolution, i.e., primitive, transitive, and evolved, were present among R. laxa botanical varieties, and pollen dimorphism was observed in the same botanical variety. Perprolate pollen with a dense striate pattern was the most evolved type. Based on morphological and palynomorphological investigations, var. tomurensis was considered to be the most evolved one among the studied botanical varieties.

Contributor Notes

We would like to thank C.Y. Ling, L.L. Dong, Y. Jiang, G.Z. Mo, J.G. Liang, H. Xue, J.X. Liu, and Y.H. Wang of Beijing Forestry University for helping in the survey; and D. Luo, V. Jens, X.M. Xu, L. Suzanne, L. Anny, Y. Kong, J.R. Bai, Y. Vanessa, and F. Qing for their comments and discussion.

This research was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. 2015ZCQ-YL-03) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (31600565).

Corresponding authors. E-mail: or

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    Survey areas in 13 prefectures/cities of Xinjiang, China (2007–18): (A) Altay Prefecture (subordinate to Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture); (B) Tacheng Prefecture (subordinate to Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture); (C) Bortala Mongol Autonomous Prefecture; (D) directly controlling area of Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture; (E) Karamay city; (F) Shihezi city; (G) Urumqi city; (H) Turpan Prefecture; (I) Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture; (J) Aksu Prefecture; (K) Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture; (L) Kashgar Prefecture; (M) Hotan Prefecture.

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    Rosa laxa var. laxa [(A) leaflet glabrous; (B) prickle recurved with broad base; (C) bud with sepals, pedicel glandular pubescent or glabrous; (D) flower white; (E) bud and flower pink, often 3–6 in corymb; (F) hip red, oblong or ovoid, apex with a short neck and persistent, erect sepals]; R. laxa var. mollis [(G) leaflet densely pubescent on both surfaces; (H) hip red, 3–6 in corymb]; R. laxa var. kaschgarica [(I) leaflet thickness, almost leathery, mostly oval, base subrounded or cuneate; (J) old branch 10–15 cm in diameter; (K) prickle significantly and strongly hooked; (L) large shrub near the water with 3.8 m shrub crown; (M) flower white or pale pink; (NO) bud often with pink mark; (P) hip red, ovoid or nearly spherical; (Q) a variant in Shenmu Park, leaflet almost leathery, very narrow oval, flower mostly solitary].

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    Rosa laxa var. tomurensis [(A) leaflet glabrous, elliptic or oblong; prickle with nonobvious camber in tip, branchlet often purplish red; (B) pedicel glandular pubescent or glabrous, long; (CD) flower white and big with long pedicel, mostly solitary; (E) habitat near river bank; (F) hip large, often pendulous, stalk slightly swelling]; new variant of R. laxa in the Tuomuer Nature Reserve [(GI) flower pale pink in corymb, sometimes solitary; (J) leaflet almost leathery, oblong; (K) hip oval or flat round, with erect sepals persistent or not; (L) prickle slightly curved]; R. beggeriana [(M) hip round or flat round; sepal deciduous]; R. albertii [(N) hip oblong or pyriform; sepal deciduous].

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    Scanning electron microscope images of pollen grains. (AH) Pollen grains of Rosa laxa var. laxa [(A) perprolate pollen grain view for sample R1 (×500); (B) pollen grain view with dimorphic shape of sample R2, prolate and subspheroidal (×500); (C) polar view of sample R2, obtuse-triangular of subspheroidal pollen on the left, trilobate-circular of prolate pollen; exine sculpture with tricolpus (×2000); (D) equatorial view of prolate pollen of sample R2, long-elliptic; elongated, narrow colpus nearly as long as the polar axis (×2000); (E) equatorial view of subspheroidal pollen of sample R2, circular or subcircular; spindle-shaped colpus (×2000); (F) sculpture view of perprolate pollen of sample R1, thin striate, almost parallel with pollen axis, with light muri and mostly large perforation between wide gaps (×6000); (G) sculpture view of prolate pollen of sample R2, deep, high-density striate-perforate (×6000); (H) sculpture view of subspheroidal pollen of sample R2, striae running almost parallel with pollen axis, scarcely perforate, like multiple ornamentation with striae and subsidence puncture (×6000)]; (IM) pollen grains of R. laxa var. mollis of sample R4 [(I) polar view, trilobate-circular; exine sculpture with tricolpus (×2000); (JK) equatorial view long-elliptic, prolate shape, with flat axis (×6000); (LM) exine sculpture densely striate; perforation irregular (fewer and smaller in L, denser and larger near colpus in M) (×6000)]; (NO) pollen grains of R. laxa var. kaschgarica [(N) perprolate pollen grain view for sample R7 (×500); (O) prolate pollen grain view of sample R5 (×500)].

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    Scanning electron microscope images of pollen grains: (AE) pollen grains of Rosa laxa var. kaschgarica [(A) polar view of sample R8, trilobate-circular with tricolpus (×2000); (BC) equatorial view of samples R8 and R5, long-elliptic; linear, narrow colpus; dense striae parallel to pollen axis (×2000); (D) exine sculpture of sample R7, densely striate with more small, perforation-like pits (×6000); (E) exine sculpture of sample R8, striate-perforate; wide grooves with more larger, deeper perforations (×6000)]; (FL) pollen grains of R. laxa var. tomurensis of sample R9 [(F) pollen grain view with dimorphic shape, perprolate and subspheroidal (×500); (G) polar view of perprolate pollen, trilobate-circular with tricolpus (×2000); (H) polar view of subspheroidal pollen, subcircular with tricolpus (×2000); (I) equatorial view of perprolate pollen, long-elliptic; striae nearly running along the equatorial axis near colpus; more deep perforations (×2000); (J) equatorial view of subspheroidal pollen, subcircular with spindle-shaped colpus (×2000); (K) exine sculpture of perprolate pollen, deeply striate-perforate (×6000); (L) exine sculpture of subspheroidal pollen, striae thin and wide, with more narrow grooves (×6000)]; (MO) pollen grains of a variant of R. laxa [(M) pollen grain view with perprolate shape (×500); (N) polar view of sample R10, trilobate-circular with tricolpus (×2000); (O) exine sculpture, deeply striate-perforate (×6000)].

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