Variation in leaf morphology of the invasive cat's claw creeper Dolichandra unguis-cati (Bignoniaceae).
The invasive liana cat's claw creeper Dolichandra unguis-cati (L.) L.G. Lohmann (syn. Macfadyena unguis-cati (L.) A.H. Gentry) exhibits intraspecific variation in leaf morphology, but this is rarely noted in the published literature. The present study documents variation in leaf morphology in two forms of the species that occur in Australia (long pod and short pod). Leaf morphology is compared between the two forms and the position of the shoots (trunk and ground) at the only two sites in which they co-occur. Leaves were categorised on the basis of leaflet number and the presence or absence of tendrils. Simple leaves were produced mainly on shoots growing along the ground and were more abundant in the short-pod form. Long-pod plants were dominated by bifoliate leaves with tendrils. Cat's claw creeper exhibits considerably wider variation in leaf morphology than recorded previously. Variations in leaf morphology may be linked to differences in the genotype, developmental stage and plastic responses of the plants. Understanding these variations may have implications for taxonomic delimitation and improved management, particularly biological control involving leaf-feeding insects.