Trophopods are modified stipe bases that function as starch-storage organs in a wide variety of mainly temperate ferns. Ever since they were first observed, the presence of trophopods has been explained by reference to seasonality and they have been assumed to provide nutrition for the rapidly expanding fern leaves in spring. We present the results of an analysis of the annual variation in starch content in Matteuccia struthiopteris (L.) Todaro, cultivated in the Leiden botanical garden. Our results show a distinct seasonal variation in starch content, suggesting that the presence of trophopods is indeed functionally linked to seasonality, but we do not find a decrease in starch content corresponding to the period of leaf expansion that would clearly link the depletion of stored starch to the expansion of new leaves.
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Vol. 106 • No. 3