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The phylogeny of Crocoideae, the largest of four subfamilies currently recognized in Tridaceae, has eluded resolution until sequences of two more plastid DNA regions were added here to a previously published matrix containing sequences from four DNA plastid regions. Sister to the core Nivenioideae, the woody Klattia, Nivenia, and Witsenia, Crocoideae are a climax group in lridaceae, comprising some 995 species, slightly more than half of the total in the family. Synapomorphies of Crocoideae include pollen exine perforate, pollen aperture operculate, ovule campylotropous (or hypotropous), root xylem vessels with simple perforations, cormous rootstock, inflorescence a spike, and plants deciduous. The six DNA region analysis here that includes examples of 27 of the 28 genera of the subfamily shows the southern African Tritoniopsis sister to the remaining genera, which resolve into four well-supported clusters (bootstrap support >85%). Each of these major clades is treated as a tribe, the synapomorphies of which are discussed in light of the molecular phylogenetic analyses. Original embryological and seed developmental studies largely support the tribal classification. Tritoniopsideae alone has the inner floral bracts not forked apically, and a hypotropous ovule, while this tribe and Watsonieae have axillary corm development. The remaining three tribes have apical corm development, and together with Watsonieae have a campylotropous ovule, and the inner layer of the inner integument crushed at maturity.

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© 2006 Peter Goldblatt, T. Jonathan Davies, John C. Manning, Michelle Van Der Bank, Vincent Savolainen

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