Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 116, Issue 2, pp 115–132 | Cite as

Phylogenetic relationships among genera of Massonieae (Hyacinthaceae) inferred from plastid DNA and seed morphology

  • M. Pfosser
  • W. Wetschnig
  • S. Ungar
  • G. Prenner
Original Article


The tribe Massonieae Baker (Hyacinthaceae-Hyacinthoideae) presently consists of about 19 genera and 230 species distributed from Africa (south of the Sahara) to Madagascar and India. Based on atpB and trnL-F DNA sequences the tribe is monophyletic only when the genus Pseudoprospero is excluded from Massonieae. In most trnL-F trees, this genus occupies a basal position within subfamily Hyacinthoideae and is sister to the rest of the subfamily. Molecular data suggest that the remaining genera of Massonieae do not share common ancestry with the Eurasian/North-African tribe Hyacintheae Dumort. (Scilla, Hyacinthus and allies), and thus a narrow concept of the essentially Eurasian genus Scilla is supported. Members of well-supported clades in Massonieae usually show similarities in seed characteristics as determined by scanning electron microscopy. Phylogenetic position and seed morphology indicate that Massonia angustifolia and M. zeyheri do not belong to the genus Massonia but fall into a clade together with Daubenya, Androsiphon and Amphisiphon. The genus Whiteheadia appears paraphyletic in the 50% majority rule trnL-F tree and occupies a basal position next to Massonia. However, in the strict consensus tree neither monophyly nor polyphyly can be excluded for this genus. Seed appendages are documented for members of the genera Ledebouria and Lachenalia. Within the genera of Massonieae there is a tendency towards bending of the seed axis. This phenomenon is most obvious within the genus Lachenalia. Delimitation of genera based on seed morphology largely agrees with the results of molecular studies. Correlation between number, size and color of seeds, geographical distribution and phylogenetic position of the genera are discussed.


Hyacinthaceae Massonieae Molecular phylogeny Plastid DNA sequences Scanning electron microscopy Seed morphology 



We thank all private collectors and botanical gardens that supplied us with living plant material and seeds. W.W. appreciates a grant given by the Republic of South Africa, which allowed him to spend half a year in South Africa to study and collect Hyacinthaceae. We are grateful to the Institute of Plant Physiology (University of Graz) for permission to use their SEM.


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer-Verlag  2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Pfosser
    • 1
  • W. Wetschnig
    • 2
  • S. Ungar
    • 1
  • G. Prenner
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Higher Plant Systematics and EvolutionInstitute of BotanyViennaAustria
  2. 2.Institute of BotanyKarl-Franzens-UniversityGrazAustria

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