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Palms are an economically important group of plants and support major agronomic and horticultural industries, quite apart from their regional use in the cultures of many tropical countries as sources of food, fibre, and building materials. Although easily recognized and limited by a lack of secondary growth, they range widely in size, life form, and habitat. The Anatomy of Palms provides an extensive survey of the structure and vegetative anatomy of members of the palm family (Arecaceae or Palmae) and uses the most recent molecular phylogenetic treatment of the family as the basis for interpreting the systematic and ecological significance of anatomical characters.
The first section (Palm Structure) starts with a description of the often distinctive anatomical techniques used, followed by the principles of palm development, a series of chapters on the microscopic anatomy of all the main organs, and finally an analysis of how these structures might have evolved. The second section (Systematic Anatomy) documents the systematic anatomical variation found in the subfamilies, tribes, and subtribes. The internal structure of all vegetative organs is reviewed, although lamina anatomy is emphasized. In those cases where genera are anatomically distinctive, they are described in detail. The intrinsic novelty of this approach is the innovative synthesis of the latest structural information for all genera of palms, set in a contemporary molecular phylogenetic context.