Studies of wide-band tracheids (WBTs) have aroused the interest of researchers who have searched to understand their origin, function, and phylogenetic implications. The present research has the objective of studying the distribution of WBTs, together with anatomic aspects of vegetative organs in different stages of Pilosocereus aurisetus, in order to understand the occurrence of WBTs in columnar cacti. Transverse and longitudinal sections of the stem (apex, middle, and base) and the root were made. The epidermis was present in the photosynthetic stem, but was substituted by periderm which was already well established in the root. The differentiation of the cortex is visible in the middle of the stem, becoming homogeneous in the base. WBTs were observed in the base and middle of young stems (WBT monomorphic wood); common in stems of globular cacti. However, WBTs/fibrous dimorphic wood was observed in the base of adult stems, a result of the cambial activity producing vessel elements and fibers. This wood polymorphism of the Cactaceae can be interpreted as cambial variation, a common character of Caryophyllales. Due to the small size of the plant, the presence of WBTs in the young stem may be related to water retention necessary for its development, rather than to physical support of the plant.
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Vol. 135 • No. 1