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Melanthiaceae s.l. comprises five tribes: Chionographideae, Heloniadeae, Melanthieae, Parideae, and Xerophylleae—each defined by distinctive autapomorphies. The most morphologically diverse tribe Melanthieae, now with seven genera, had not been subject to rigorous phylogenetic character study prior to the current series of investigations that also include an overview of the family. Data from our publications and studies underway are here assessed and integrated, providing a useful overview of Melanthiaceae, and especially of Melanthieae. The results of parsimony analyses of ITS (nuclear ribosomal) and trnL-F (plastid) DNA sequence data correlate with potentially synapomorphic phenotypic characters for genera of Melanthieae, including habit form, rootstock type, bulb shape, inflorescence structure, indumentum type, tepa! shape, nectary morphology, and ovary position. Sequence data also correlate well with the pattern of variation in chromosome number. The molecular and morphological data support generic recircumscription in Melanthieae and also validate several generalizations concerning character evolution within the tribe, as well as among the tribes of the family.

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© 2006 Wendy B. Zomlefer, Walter S. Judd, W. Mark Whitten, Norris H. Williams

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