Monocots

Some General Characteristics

Winter Rye

A seedling of Cultivated Rye (Secale cereale). In this species, as in most monocots, the cotyledon remains underground.

Monocots form the second largest group of flowering plants (constituting approximately 22 percent of all species of angiosperms [Soltis and Soltis 2004]). They are called monocots or monocotyledons because members of this group typically have a single embryonic seed leaf (cotyledon). In most species of monocots, the cotyledon remains underground (i.e., germination is said to be hypogeal). Some monocots exhibit epigeal germination (with the cotyledon appearing above ground). A single genus may contain some species that undergo hypogeal germination and others that undergo epigeal germination; for example, Allium tricoccum exhibits hypogeal germination whereas Allium cepa exhibits epigeal germination (Li et al., 2010, Raven et al. 1992).

Besides having a single cotyledon, other characteristics commonly seen in monocots include monocolpate pollen (pollen with one furrow or pore), leaves with parallel veins, flower parts in multiples of three, roots that are entirely adventitious (i.e., they don't arise from a primary root, but usually arise from a stem and form a fibrous root system, with roots of uniform thickness), and stems and roots that lack secondary growth (i.e., there is no increase in girth, no cambium).

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Sources

Leck, M.A., V.T. Parker, and R.L.Simpson (eds.), 2008. Seedling Ecology and Evolution. Cambridge University Press. New York.

Li, Q., S. Zhou, X. He, Y. Yu, Y. Zhang, and X. Wei, 2010. Phylogeny and biogeography of Allium (Amaryllidaceae: Allieae) based on nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer and chloroplast rps16 sequences, focusing on the inclusion of species endemic to China. Annals of Botany, 106(5):709-733.

Office of the Federal Register, 2014. Code of Federal Regulations. Title 7 Agriculture. Parts 53 to 209. Revised as of January 1, 2014.Published by the Office of the Federal Register National Archives and Records Administration as a special edition of the Federal Register.

Raven, P.H., R.F. Evert, and S.E. Eichhorn. 1992. Biology of Plants. Fifth edition. Worth Publishers: New York. 791 pages.

Soltis, P.S. and D.E. Soltis. 2004. The origin and diversification of angiosperms. Am Journal of Botany. 91(10): 1614-1626.

Zomlefer, W.B. 1994. Guide to Flowering Plant Families. The Univeristy of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. 430 pages.

Last edited: 29 Jan. 2018