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Occurrence, types and distribution of calcium oxalate crystals in leaves and stems of some species of poisonous plants

Tütüncü Konyar, Sevil, Öztürk, Necla, Dane, Feruzan
Botanical studies 2014 v.55 no.1 pp. 32
Aristolochia, Chelidonium majus, Cynanchum, Hedera helix, Humulus lupulus, Hypericum perforatum, Nerium oleander, Saponaria officinalis, Tribulus terrestris, calcium oxalate, crystals, leaves, light microscopy, pith, plant organs, poisonous plants, sand, stems, toxicity
BACKGROUND: Calcium oxalate crystals, which are found in many organs of plants, have different morphological forms: as druses, prism, styloids, raphides and crystal sand. In this study, the distribution, type and specific location of calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves and stems of the eight species of poisonous plants and one species of nonpoisonous plant were investigated with light microscopy. During study special attention was given to the possible correlation between the presence and types of calcium oxalate crystals and toxic plant organs. The plants examined in this study were Hedera helix L. (Araliaceae), Aristolochia clematitis L. (Aristolochiaceae), Humulus lupulus L. (Cannabaceae), Saponaria officinalis L. (Caryophyllaceae), Chelidonium majus L. (Papaveraceae), Hypericum perforatum L. (Hypericaceae), Tribulus terrestris L. (Zygophyllaceae), Cynanchum acutum L. (Asclepiadaceae), and Nerium oleander L. (Apocynaceae). RESULTS: Three types of crystals: druses, prismatic crystals and crystal sands were observed. Druses were identified in the leaves and stems of six species of studied plants. In contrast to druses, crystal sands and prismatic crystals were rare. Prismatic crystals were observed in the leaf mesophlly cells of both Nerium oleander and Cynanchum acutum. However, crystal sands were observed only in the pith tissue of Humulus lupulus. On the other hand, leaves and stems of Chelidonium majus, Aristolochia clematitis and Hypericum perforatum were devoid of crystals. CONCLUSION: There is no absolute correlation between the presence and type of calcium oxalate crystals and toxic plant organs. However druse crystals may function as main irritant in toxic organs of the plants.