The Botanical Review

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 179–227 | Cite as

Reproductive versus extra-reproductive nectaries—historical perspective and terminological recommendations

  • Rudolf Schmid


Discussion focuses on various terms for “nectary,” “nectar,” and related phenomena (e.g., “nectar-holder”) and on the morphological circumscription of nectaries. “Nectarial” is the general term pertaining to nectaries. The very explicit “nectar-secreting” should be used instead of “nectariferous” to stress clearly the secretory function of cells (not all nectarial cells are nectar-secreting). “Nectary” is defined anatomically as a more or less localized, often multicellular glandular structure (some nectaries are unicellular hairs) that occurs on vegetative or reproductive organs and that regularly secretes nectar, a sweet solution containing mainly sugars and generally serving as a reward for pollinators or for protectors (e.g., ants) against herbivores, or, in carnivorous plants, as a lure for animal prey.

It seems preferable for general use to adopt Caspary’s (1848) “floral/ extrafloral” terminology of nectaries based on structure rather than Delpino’s (1873) “nuptial/extranuptial” terminology based on function, unless there is clear evidence for the latter. All nectaries in the flower should be regarded as “floral,” a designation counter to the “extrafloral” one commonly used for many nectaries abaxially located on sepals and petals. Furthermore, from a topographical viewpoint, the term “reproductive nectaries” is proposed for those nectaries present onany type of reproductive structure, whether inflorescence part, peduncle/pedicel, bract/ bracteole, fruit, ovule (in gymnosperms), and, of course, any floral part. In contrast, “extra-reproductive nectaries” is proposed for nectaries occurring on strictly vegetative organs—stems, leaves, cotyledons, and their parts.


Botanical Review Vegetative Organ Carnivorous Plant Extrafloral Nectary Floral Nectary 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Verschiedene Begriffe für “Nektarium,” “Nektarrd und verwandte Erscheinungen (z.B. “Nektarhalter”) werden diskutiert, ebenso die morphologische Definition von Nektarien. Das ausdrücklichere “nektarsezernierend” sollte gebraucht werden anstelle von “nektarführend,” um die sekretorische Funktion von Zellen zu betonen (nicht alle Nektarienzellen sind nektarsezernierend). “Nektarium” ist anatomisch definiert als eine mehr oder weniger deutlich umgrenzte, oft vielzellige sekretorische Region (einige Nektarien sind einzellige Haare), die an vegetativen oder reproduktiven Organen vorkommt und regelmässig Nektar sezerniert, eine süsse wässerige Lösung von Zuckern. Nektar dient normalerweise als Beköstigungsmittel für Bestäuber oder für Tiere (z.B., Ameisen), die die Pflanze vor Herbivoren schützen.

Im allgemeinen ist Casparys (1848) strukturelles Begriffspaar “floral”/ “extrafloral” dem funktioneilen Begriffspaar Delpinos (1873) “nuptial”/ “extranuptial” vorzuziehen. Alle Nektarien an Blütenorganen sollten als “floral” bezeichnet werden, auch solche die abaxial an Sepalen und Petalen sitzen (und die deswegen oft als “extrafloral” bezeichnet worden sind). Weiter wird der Begriff “reproduktive Nektarien” vorgeschlagen für solche Nektarien, die an irgendeiner reproduktiven Struktur sitzen, gleich ob Infloreszenz, Blütenoder Blütenstandsachse, Braktee, Brakteole, Frucht, Samenanlage (bei Gymnospermen) und, selbstverständlich, die Blütenregion. Dagegen wird “extra-reproduktive Nektarien” für solche vorgeschlagen, die an rein vegetativen Organen vorkommen (Achsen, Blätter, Kotyledonen und ihren Teilen).


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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rudolf Schmid
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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