The development of the ovule, which represents the embryo- Gymnosperms; when mature it consists of one or two sac. coats surrounding the central nucellus, except at the apex where an opening, the micropyle, is left.
The nucellus is a cellular tissue enveloping one large cell, the embryo-sac or macrospore.
In some cases the embryo or the embryo-sac sends out suckers into the nucellus and ovular integument.
In Coelebogyne (Euphorbiaceae) and in Funkia (Liliaceae) polyembryony results from an adventitious production of embryos from the cells of the nucellus around the top of the embryo-sac. In a species of Allium, embryos have been found developing in the same individual from the egg-cell, synergids, antipodal cells and cells of the nucellus.
As the development of embryo and endosperm proceeds within the embryo-sac, its wall enlarges and commonly absorbs the substance of the nucellus (which is likewise enlarging) to near its outer limit, and combines with it and the integument Fruit and to form the seed-coat; or the whole nucellus and even the integument may be absorbed.
Ovular characters determine the grouping in the Dicotyledons, van Tieghem supporting the view that the integument, the outer if there be two, is the lamina of a leaf of which the funicle is the petiole, whilst the nucellus is an outgrowth of this leaf, and the inner integument, if present, an indusium.
The Insemineae include forms in which the nucellus is not developed, and therefore there can be no seed.
The plants included are, however, mainly well-established parasites, and the absence of nucellus is only one of those characters of reduction to which parasites are liable.
Ovules naked, rarely without carpellary leaves, usually borne on carpophylls, which assume various forms. The single megaspore enclosed in the nucellus is filled with tissue (prothallus) before fertilization, and contains two or more archegonia, consisting usually of a large egg-cell and a small neck, rarely of an egg-cell only and no neck (Gnetum and Welwitschia).
An ovule consists of a conical nucellus surrounded by a single integument.
At an early stage of development a large cell makes its appearance in the central region of the nucellus; this increases in size and eventually forms three cells; the lowest of these grows vigorously and constitutes the megaspore (embryo-sac),which ultimately absorbs the greater part of the nucellus.
In the ripe seed the integument assumes the form of a fleshy envelope, succeeded internally by a hard woody shell, internal to which is a thin papery membrane - the apical portion of the nucellus - which is easily dissected out as a conical cap covering the apex of the endosperm.
A young ovule consists of a conical nucellus surrounded by a single integument terminating as a two-lipped micropyle.
A papery remnant of nucellus lines the inner face of the woody shell, and, as in cycadean seeds, the apical portion is readily separated as a cap covering the summit of the endosperm.
Each ovule is enclosed at the base by an envelope or collar homologous with the lamina of a leaf; the fleshy and hard coats of the nucellus constitute a single integument.
Abies), on each side of which is situated an inverted ovule, consisting of a nucellus surrounded by a single integument.
The ovule is usually surrounded by one integument, which projects beyond the tip of the nucellus as a wide-open lobed funnel, which at the time of pollination folds inwards, and so assists in bringing the pollen-grains on to the nucellus.
In Araucaria and Saxegothaea the nucellus itself projects beyond the open micropyle and receives the pollen-grains direct.
During the growth of the cell which forms the megaspore the greater part of the nucellus is absorbed, except the apical portion, which persists as a cone above the megaspore; the partial disorganization of some of the cells in the centre of the nucellar cone forms an irregular cavity, which may be compared with the larger pollen-chamber of Ginkgo and the cycads.
The integument of the sterile ovule is prolonged above the nucellus as a spirally-twisted tube expanded at its apex into a flat stigma-like organ.
The megaspore of Welwitschia is filled with a prothallus-tissue before fertilization, and some of the prothallus-cells function as egg-cells; these grow upwards as long tubes into the apical region of the nucellus, where they come into contact with the pollen-tubes.
- Vertical section of the ovule of the Scotch Fir (Pinus sylvestris) in May of the second year, showing the enlarged embryo-sac b, full of endosperm cells, and pollen-tubes c, penetrating the summit of the nucellus after the pollen has entered the large micropyle.
N, Nucellus; i, inner; o, outer integument in section; m, micropyle.
- Orthotropous ovule of Polygonum in section, showing the embryo-sac s, in the nucellus n, the different ovular coverings, the base of the nucellus or chalaza ch, and the apex of the ovule with its micropyle m.
- Vertical section of the ovule of the Austrian Pine (Pinus austriaca), showing the nucellus a, consisting of delicate cellular tissue containing deep in its substance an embryo-sac b.
This nucellus may remain naked, and alone form the ovule, as in some orders of parasitic plants such as Balanophoraceae, Santalaceae, &c.; but in most plants it becomes surrounded by certain coverings or integuments during its development.
These appear first in the form of cellular rings at the base of the nucellus, which gradually spread over its surface (figs.
There are thus two integuments to the nucellus, an outer and an inner.
The integuments do not completely invest the apex of the nucellus, but an opening termed the micropyle is left.
This embryo-sac increases in size, gradually supplanting the cellular tissue of the nucellus until it is surrounded only by a thin layer of it; or it may actually extend at the apex beyond it, as in Phaseolus and Alsine media; or it may pass into the micropyle, as in Santalum.
The point where the integuments are united to the base of the nucellus is called the chalaza (figs.
- Campylotropous ovule of wall-flower (Cheiranthus), showing the funicle f, which attaches the ovule to the placenta; p, the outer, s, the inner coat, n, the nucellus, ch, the chalaza.
- Anatropous ovule of Dandelion (Taraxacum), nucellus, which is inverted, so that the chalaza ch, is removed from the base or hilum h, while the micropyle f is near the base.
The connexion between the base of the ovule and the base of the nucellus is kept up by means of the raphe r.
Pollination having been effected, and the pollen-grain having reached the stigma in angio sperms or the summit of the nucellus in mnos erms P gY P it is detained there, and the viscid secretion from the glands of the stigma in the former case, or from the nucellus in the latter, induce the protrusion of the intine as a pollen-tube through the pores of the grain.
The ovary enlarges, and, with the seeds enclosed, constitutes the fruit, frequently incorporated with which are other parts of the flower, as receptacle, calyx, &c. In gymnosperms the pollen-tubes, having penetrated a certain distance down the tissue of the nucellus, are usually arrested in growth for a longer or shorter period, sometimes nearly a year.
The single integument is united to the nucellus, except at the top, and is traversed by about nine vascular strands.
This is a large seed, with a very long micropyle; it has a beaked pollen-chamber, and a complex integument made up of hard and fleshy layers, closely resembling the seed of a modern Cycad; the nucellus, however, was free from the integument, each a sketch after Kidston.
Nucellus of an ovule; p.c, pollen-chamber; s, canal leading to p.c; p, pollen-grains in p.c; p', do.
Upper part of seed, in longitudinal section; i, integument; mi, micropyle; n, remains of nucellus; p.c, pollen-chamber (containing pollen-grains), with its canal extending up to the micropyle; pr, part of prothallus; ar, archegonia.