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Leaf shape analysis using the multiscale Minkowski fractal dimension, a new morphometric method: a study with Passiflora (Passifloraceae)

RD Plotze and M Falvo and JG Padua and LC Bernacci and MLC Vieira and GCX Oliveira and OM Bruno


A new method is proposed for the extraction of morphometric characteristics of plant leaf structures. A sample of 10 species of the genus Passiflora (P. coriacea Juss., P. foetida L., P. miersii Mast., P. organensis Gardner, P. pohlii Mast., P. suberosa L., P. amethystina J.C. Mikan, P. caerulea L., P. gibertii N.E.Br., P. maliformis L.) was used in an experiment to test the method. This genus shows a wide range of leaf forms, but there are some species pairs or groups whose morphological similarity makes their correct identification difficult. The multiscale function of the Minkowski fractal dimension was applied to digital images of leaves to generate complexity measures of their internal (veins) and external (leaf outline) form. The results of the leaf characteristic extraction method, as well as its potential as the basis for an identification mechanism, are discussed for the 10 species. The method was very accurate in correctly differentiating among species, since no leaf was erroneously identified. A small number of leaves per species was sufficient for establishing a characteristic pattern for each of them, which constitutes an important advantage of the method in the recognition and classification procedure.