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A Unique Quillwort from Lebanon

A Unique Quillwort from Lebanon

Based on comments in Mouterde's flora, I searched the area near the village of Menges in the Akkar region of extreme northern part of Lebanon. We found some plants! But which species is it? While scales and phyllopodia are abundant, they do not persist at the base of the plant in the same manner as Isoetes histrix Bory, a widespread Mediterranean species. The spores bear some resemblance, but the chromosome number is different from that reported for I. histrix which is 2n=20. The Akkar plant has 2n=22. The only other quillwort in the region, I . olympica A. Braun (see Syrian Quillwort Poster) is also 2n=22. North of Lebanon. Road between Menjiz ('Menges') and Kfar Noun. N 34o 36' 965'', E36 o 15' 202''. Open field, by the side of microwave transmission station. Altitude: 354m. 24 February 2002. With: S. Saoud, M. Saoud, J. Musselman, S. Musselman. I returned to this area in February 2005 with Michel Bariche of the American University of Beirut and we found several additional populations. These will be posted here. Images of plants, spores, leaves, scales and phyllopodia, and chromosomes are included here. To speed loading, they are presented as PDF files.

Akkar quillwort, village of Menges, 24 February 2002. Lebanon
Plant growing in drying mud in heavily disturbed field. Looks any other quillwort!

Akkar megaspores
These megaspores resemble those of I. olympicaalthough less tuberculate.

Akkar quillwort microspores
The microspores are different, at least superficially, from those of I. olympica.

Cross section of Akkar quillwort leaf
Only two air chambers are present, a very unusual feature since most quillwort leaves have four distinct air chambers. I examined various parts of the leaf from top to bottom and this was a consistent feature. However, a larger sample with leaves from different plants is needed to determine if this is a distinction of this species.

Detail of peripheral strand on adaxial surface of leaf
Unlike most Isoetes species, the leaves of the Akkar quillwort have a peripheral strand on the bottom (adaxial) side of the leaf.

Akkar quillwort stomata
Stomata are arranged in rows like many quillwort species.

Stomata detail
Stomatal detail.

Akkar quillwort scales
Scales are present on these plants. 

Abscission cap and scale, Akkar quillwort
Recent studies on a diversity of quillworts indicates that an abscission cap is a regular feature of many species. This is an area of tissue sloughed when the rootstock resumes growth. A scale is also evident in this picture.

Akkar quillwort chromosomes
With a little imagination, it is possible to see the 22 chromosomes in this image (much clearer under the microscope) from a squash prepared by Dr Rebecca Bray.