Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 216, Issue 3, pp 251-263

First online:

The phylogeny ofActaea (Ranunculaceae): A biogeographical approach

  • Matthias H. HoffmannAffiliated withInstitut für Geobotanik und Botanischer Garten, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

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Phylogenetic analyses of the genusActaea were performed using morphological, ecological and biogeographical characters. Using solely morphological characters, the relationships of the three identified species-groups remain uncertain. Close biogeographical examination and comparison of the areas with ecological peculiarities as well as climate data gave important insight into the phylogeny ofActaea and the whole tribe. Consequently, the obtained biogeographical data were used for phylogenetic reconstructions. Both, from the point of view of morphological and biogeographical data,A. pachypoda andA. asiatica are the most ancestral species. They grow on the east sides of the continents, mainly in broad-leaved forests. In West Eurasia the apomorphicA. spicata andA. acuminata occur under similar climatic and ecological conditions, but these species are adapted to another climate rhythm. The most advanced species (A. erythrocarpa, A. rubra) are to be found in the boreal forests where they are widely distributed. This biogeographical approach revealed that the evolution of the species led to a gradual widening and shifting of their ecological constitutions.

Key words

Ranunculaceae Cimicifugeae Actaea Cimicifuga Souliea Anemonopsis Biogeography morphology ecology phylogeny