Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Pollen morphology and variability of Sambucus nigra L. – Adoxaceae

  • 16 Accesses


The objective of this study was to investigate the pollen morphology and the ranges of intraspecific and interindividual variability of Sambucus nigra L. S. nigra inflorescences were collected randomly from 66 natural elderberry sites in Poland, Germany and Lithuania. Each individual (shrub) was represented by 30 pollen grains. In total, 1980 pollen grains were measured. Nine quantitative and three qualitative features of the pollen grains were analysed. The diagnostic features of the pollen grains for the studied species were: exine ornamentation (microreticulate-heterobrochate), the length of the polar axis (small pollen) and the pollen shape (ca. 80% prolate-spheroidal and spheroidal pollen grains). These features should be treated as auxiliary because they fail to differentiate individual samples, although they can be helpful in distinguishing groups of samples. For the first time, the intraspecific and interindividual variability of the pollen grains of S. nigra were investigated. Statistically significant differences were found among particular individuals (shrubs) in all pollen grain features, although the most different were the pollen grains from samples (individuals) 7, 8 and 9 collected in Łubiana. There were significant relationships observed between the pollen grain traits and the geographical location of the collection sites.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


  1. Applequist WL (2013) Report of the Nomenclature Committee for Vascular Plants: 65. Taxon 62:1315–1326

  2. Applequist WL (2015) A Brief Review of Recent Controversies in the Taxonomy and Nomenclature of Sambucus nigra sensu lato. Acta Hortic 1061:25–33

  3. Bassett IJ, Crompton CW (1970) Pollen morphology of the family Caprifoliaceae in Canada. Pollen Spores 12:365–380

  4. Bell CD, Edwards EJ, Kim ST, Donoghue MJ (2001) Dipsacales phylogeny based on chloroplast DNA sequences. Harv Pap Bot 6:481–499

  5. Bohnke-Gütlein E, Weberling F (1981) Palynologische Untersuchungen an Caprifoliaceae I Sambuceae, Viburneae und Diervilleae. Trop Subtrop Pflanzenwelt 34:131–189

  6. Bolli R (1994) Revision of the genus Sambucus. Dissertat Bot 223, Stuttgart – Berlin p, 227

  7. Bremer K, Backlund A, Sennblad B, Swenson U, Andreasen K, Hjertson M, Lundberg J, Backlund M, Bremer B (2001) A phylogenetic analysis of 100+ genera and 50+ families of euasterids based on morphological and molecular data with notes on possible higher level morphological synapomorphies. Plant Syst Evol 229:137–169

  8. Camussi A, Ottaviano E, Caliński T, Kaczmarek Z (1986) Genetic distances based on quantitative traits. Genetics 111:945–962

  9. Erdtman G (1952) Pollen morphology and plant taxonomy Angiosperms. Almquist & Wiksell, Stockholm, p 539

  10. Erdtman G (1960) The acetolysis method A revised description. Sven Bot Tidskr 54:561–564

  11. Fukuoka N (1987) Classification and distribution of Sambucus. Acta Phytotax Geobot 38:303–310

  12. Halbritter H, Diethart B (2016) Sambucus nigra In: PalDat (2016-07-18) - a palynological database Published on the Internet https://www.paldatorg/pub/Sambucus_nigra/301230 (Accessed 15 Jan 2018)

  13. Halbritter H, Hess Ulrich S, Grímsson F, Weber M, Zetter R, Hesse M, Buchner R, Svojtka M, Frosch-Radivo A (2018) Illustrated Pollen Terminology, 2nd edn. Springer, Vienna, p 483

  14. Horčinová Sedláčková V, Grygorieva O, Gurnenko I, Brindza J (2018) Study of morphological characteristics of pollen grains of Sambucus nigra L. Agr Bio Div Impr Nut Health Life Qual 2:277–284

  15. Hu CC, He CX (1988) Pollen morphology of Caprifoliaceae from China and its taxonomic significance. Acta Phytotax Sin 26:343–352

  16. Kuprianova LA, Alyoshina LA (1978) Pollen dicotyledoneaerum Florae Partis Europareae URSS Lamiaceae-Zygophyllaceae. Nauka Akad Sci USSR L Komarov Inst Bot, p 184

  17. Mabberley DJ (1987) The Plant Book. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 707

  18. Maciejewska I (1997a) Pollen morphology of the Polish species of the family Caprifoliaceae Part 1. Acta Soc Bot Pol 66(2):133–142

  19. Maciejewska I (1997b) Pollen morphology of the Polish species of the family Caprifoliaceae Part 2. Acta Soc Bot Pol 66(2):143–151

  20. Muccifora S, Bellani LM, Gori P (2003) Ultrastructure, viability, and in vitro germination of the tricellular Sambucus nigra L. pollen. Int J Plant Sci 164(6):855–860

  21. Olmstead RG, Kim KJ, Jansen RK, Wagstaff SJ (2000) The phylogeny of the Asteridae sensu lato based on chloroplast ndhF gene sequences. Mol Phylogenet Evol 16:96–112

  22. Punt W, Reitsma T, Reuvers AAML (1974) Caprifoliaceae. Rev Palaeobot Palynol 17:5–29

  23. Punt W, Hoen PP, Blackmore S, Nilsson S, Le Thomas A (2007) Glossary of pollen and spore terminology. Rev. Palaeobot Palynol 1431:1–81

  24. Rencher AC (1992) Interpretation of canonical discriminant, functions canonical variates, and principal components. Am Stat 46:217–225

  25. Reveal J (2008) Proposals to conserve the name Viburnaceae (Magnoliophyta), the name Adoxaceae against Viburnaceae, a “superconservation” proposal, and as an alternative, the name Sambucaceae. Taxon 57:303

  26. Samutina ML (1986) Comparative-morphological analysis of pollen of the genus Sambucus (Caprifoliaceae). Bot J USSR 71:168–174

  27. Schneider H, Halbritter H, Tweraser E (2005) Sambucus ebulus. In: PalDat - A palynological database. https://www.paldat.org/pub/Sambucus_ebulus/112285. Accessed 1 Feb 2019

  28. Schwerin FG (1920) Revisio generis Sambucus. Mitt Deutsch Dendrol Ges 29:194–231

  29. Shapiro SS, Wilk MB (1965) An analysis of variance test for normality (complete samples). Biometrika 52:591–611

  30. Straka H (1952) Zur Feinmorphologie des Pollens von Salix und Artemisia. Sven Bot Tidskr 46:204–227

  31. Tamas M, Pop C, Ada Martian A, Barbu-Tudoran L (2009) Morphological research on indigenous Sambucus species pollen. Not Bot Hort Agrobot Cluj 37(1):65–69

  32. Tsymbalyuk ZM, Bezusko LG (2017) Pollen morphology of representatives of the genus Sambucus (Sambucaceae/Adoxaceae) in the flora of Ukraine for spore-pollen analysis. Ukr Bot J 74(2):122–130

  33. Wrońska-Pilarek D, Bocianowski J, Jagodziński AM (2013) Comparison of pollen grain morphological features of selected species of the genus Crataegus L (Rosaceae) and their spontaneous interspecific hybrids. Bot J Linn Soc 172:555–571

  34. Wrońska-Pilarek D, Danielewicz W, Bocianowski J, Maliński T, Janyszek M (2016) Comparative pollen morphological analysis and its systematic implications on three European Oak (Quercus L, Fagaceae) species and their spontaneous hybrids. PLoS One 11(8):e0161762. https://doi.org/10.1371/journalpone0161762

  35. Zhang WH, Chen ZD, Li JH, Chen HB, Tang YC (2003) Phylogeny of the Dipsacales s.l. based on chloroplast trnL-F and ndhF sequences. Mol Phylogenet Evol 26(2):176–189

Download references


We kindly thank Nuala Scanlon (English native proofreader) for linguistic support, and Dr. Lee E. Frelich (University of Minnesota, USA) for valuable comments to the manuscript. The study was financially supported by the Institute of Dendrology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kórnik, Poland. We would like to thank the Reviewers for their detailed and valuable comments on the manuscript.

Author information

Correspondence to Dorota Wrońska-Pilarek.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wrońska-Pilarek, D., Jagodziński, A.M., Bocianowski, J. et al. Pollen morphology and variability of Sambucus nigra L. – Adoxaceae. Biologia (2020). https://doi.org/10.2478/s11756-019-00396-8

Download citation


  • Pollen morphology
  • Intraspecific variability
  • Sambucus