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We sequenced the plastid gene matK and the nuclear ribosomal spacer ITS for 39 of the 47+ species of Conostylis as well as its monotypic sister genus Blancoa, which some authors have included within Conostylis. Conostylis received 99% bootstrap support as monophyletic, with 100% support that Blancoa is its sister. Within Conostylis, the study provides strong support for two large sister clades, which we refer to as clades A (100%) and B (99%). Clade A consists of C. subgen. Conostylis plus the recently discovered C. glabra of C. subgen. Pendula sect. Divaricata (100%), and C. subgen. Pendula sect. Appendicula (100%). Clade B consists of species mostly placed within the remainder of C. subgen. Pendula but also contains members of the other small subgenera. Subgenus Pendula can be recircumscribed as monophyletic by excluding sect. Appendicula, Conostylis phathyrantha, and C. glabra and including subgen. Androstemma and subgen. Greenia. The status of the other two minor subgenera—C. subgen. Brachycaulon and C. subgen. Bicolorata—requires further investigation. Conostylis sect. Divaricata is polyphyletic. Ancient vicariance events are postulated for Conostylis involving separation of major clades in the northern and southern kwongan regions of southwestern Australia. The phylogenetic pattern in Conostylis is consistent across several lineages with the prolonged persistence of relictual taxa combined with explosive more recent speciation, the latter pronounced in the northern kwongan. There is evidence of significant divergence in major speciation mechanisms and chromosome number change among the three most species-rich subgenera/sections (dysploidy in Pendula and Appendicula vs. diploid speciation in Conostylis). Further investigation is needed to evaluate these ideas and elucidate the patterns of speciation in this most diverse genus of Haemodoraceae.

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© 2006 Stephen D. Hopper, Mark W. Chase, Michael F. Fay

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