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    Leaf Modifications and Specializations

    Leaves are highly plastic in form.
    The same plant may have leaves of different size, shape, and color,
    depending on the leaves' growing conditions.

    Leaves have undergone more evolutionary diversification and specialization
    than other plant organs in response to natural selection.

    • cactus spines
    • climbing tendrils
    • prey traps
    • nutrient storage
    • water storage
    • pollinator attraction
    • drip tips to shed excess rainwater

    Plant leaf morphology reflects the plant's natural history.

    • A xerophyte is adapted for life in a very arid environment.
    • A hydrophyte is adapted for life in a very wet environment.
    • A mesophyte is adapted for life in a moderate environments.


    But the most important evolutionary innovation was
    the sporophyll.

    A flower is a whorl of leaves called sporophylls
    that are specialized for reproduction.

fern sporophyll (left),
wheat megasporophylls (pistil, center),
lily microsporophylls (stamens, right).

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