Sympatric co-existence of two ecotypes of Impatiens noli-tangere (Balsaminaceae) with different morphology and flowering phenology

Tsubasa Toji, Tetsuya Yamamoto, Hikaru Kondo, Yoshinori Shinohara, Takao Itino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In angiosperms, intraspecific variation of flowering phenology may affect reproductive isolation and, consequently, speciation. This study focused on Impatiens noli-tangere (Balsaminaceae), which is distributed over broad latitudinal and altitudinal ranges in Japan. We aimed to reveal the phenotypic mixture of two ecotypes of I. noli-tangere with different flowering phenology and morphological traits in a narrow contact zone. Previous studies have shown that I. noli-tangere has early- and late-flowering types. The early-flowering type makes buds in June and is distributed at high-elevation sites. The late-flowering type makes buds in July and is distributed at low-elevation sites. In this study, we analyzed the flowering phenology of individuals at an intermediate elevation site where the early- and late-flowering types grow in sympatry (contact zone). We found no individuals showing intermediate flowering phenology at the contact zone, and early- and late-flowering types were clearly distinguishable. We also found that the differences in many other phenotypic traits between the early- and late-flowering types were maintained, including the number of flowers produced (total number of chasmogamous and cleistogamous flowers), leaf morphology (aspect ratio, number of serrations), seed traits (aspect ratio), and flower bud formation positions on the plant. This study showed that these two flowering ecotypes maintain many different traits in sympatry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-331
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Plant Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Contact zone
  • Flowering ecotype
  • Leaf morphology
  • Seed morphology
  • Trait differentiation


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