Large elongated glands occur on Cercideae leaf surfaces. Leaves of Bauhinia (55 taxa, 53 species), Cercis (1 species), Phanera (1 species), Piliostigma (2 species), Schnella (19 species) and Tylosema (1 species) were observed to determine location and relative number of glands. They were only observed on the abaxial leaf surface of 42 Bauhinia taxa. The glands were analyzed by light stereomicroscope and scanning electron microscopy. They are large (up to 270 µm long and 115 µm wide) and multicellular, containing lipophilic substances, probably volatile oils. Presence or absence and density of the glands in species of Bauhinia may be useful to determine species delimitation or distinction among infraspecific taxa. Higher density of glands is more common in species from "cerrado" (a savanna ecosystem) and "caatinga" (a semiarid ecosystem from northeast Brazil) areas. Bauhinia species devoid of foliar glands are frequently from humid forests.
Bauhinia; Brazilian forest; Leguminosae; secretory structure; taxonomy; tropical ecosystems