Concentrations of starch in roots of seeder species of Erica from the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa were
found to be considerably less than in resprouters. Shoot starch was highly variable but mean values were similar
in both seeder and resprouter species of Erica. Three distinct patterns of starch storage in roots were recognized.
All seeder species fell within definitions of Categories 1 (narrow major and minor parenchymatous rays, one to two
cells wide with no inter-ray storage) or 2 (thick major rays up to seven cells wide and thin minor rays with small
amounts of inter-ray storage) whereas resprouter species were consistently within Categories 2 or 3 (broad major
and minor rays, up to eight cells wide and conspicuous inter-ray starch storage). Results are discussed in light of
similar studies of the related Epacridaceae. ‘Mixed’ species (i.e. with seeder or resprouter individuals present,
often in distinct populations) were always classified as belonging to Category 2. Studies of populations of three
‘mixed’ species confirmed that seeder forms had consistently lower amounts of root starch than resprouters. Rays
of xylem parenchyma were the main sites for starch storage in roots of both seeders and resprouters and greater
proportions of cross-sectional area of roots were consistently devoted to such storage tissues in resprouter forms
of the three ‘mixed’ species. Analyses of a number of seeder and resprouter Erica coccinea populations showed that
differences in amounts of realised and potential root starch storage are best explained by the effect of regeneration
behaviour rather than by among-population variability.