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Studies in Neotropical Araliaceae. I. Resurrection of the genus Sciodaphyllum P. Browne to accommodate most New World species previously included in Schefflera J. R. Forst. & G. Forst.

  • Porter P. Lowry IIEmail author
  • Gregory M. Plunkett
  • M. Marcela Mora
  • Asunción Cano
  • Pedro Fiaschi
  • David G. Frodin
  • Roy E. Gereau
  • Álvaro Idárraga-Piedrahíta
  • Jáider Jiménez-Montoya
  • J. Moisés F. Mendoza
  • David A. Neill
  • Orlando Rivera-Diaz
  • Carlos Rodrigues-Vaz
Original Research


Phylogenetic studies have shown that Schefflera, the largest genus of Araliaceae, is highly polyphyletic, comprising five non-sister clades within the family, and that the generic name must be restricted to a small group of Pacific Island species. In an effort to establish monophyletic genera for the other elements still remaining in Schefflera, phylogenetic analyses of the large Neotropical clade have revealed five morphologically and geographically coherent groups. Here, we reinstate the genus Sciodaphyllum, which corresponds to the largest of these five groups, presenting a synopsis of the 131 currently recognized species, including 109 new combinations, one replacement name (nomen novum), and three new heterotypic synonyms. The re-establishment of Sciodaphyllum opens the way for describing an estimated 200+ new species in the genus, nearly all of which are from the Northern and Central Andes.


Combinatio nova nomenclature nomen novum taxonomy 


Estudios filogenéticos han demostrado que Schefflera, el género más grande de Araliaceae, es altamente polifilético, con cinco clados no hermanos dentro de la familia y que el nombre genérico se debe restringir solo a un pequeño grupo de especies de las islas del Pacífico. En un esfuerzo por establecer géneros monofiléticos para los otros elementos que aún permanecen en Schefflera, los análisis filogenéticos del gran clado neotropical han revelado cinco grupos morfológicamente y geográficamente coherentes. Aquí, resucitamos el género Sciodaphyllum que corresponde al clado más grande de estos cinco grupos, presentando una sinopsis de las 131 especies actualmente reconocidas, incluyendo 109 nuevas combinaciones, un nombre nuevo (nomen novum) y tres nuevos sinónimos heterotípicos. El restablecimiento de Sciodaphyllum abre el camino para describir un estimado de más de 200 especies nuevas en el género, casi todas de las cuales son del norte y centro de los Andes.



As this paper was being finalized, our co-author, friend and colleague David Frodin passed away. His vast knowledge of Schefflera and his never-ending enthusiasm and willingness to share his insights will be missed by us all.

The authors thank the curators of the following herbaria for the loan of specimens or for providing access to their collections: CAUP, COL, CUVC, CUZ, F, FMB, HUA, ICESI, JAUM, K, LOJA, MEDEL, MO, MOL, NY, PSO, QCA, QCNE, VALLE, and USM. We are also grateful to Roy Gereau for advice on several matters of typification, and George Schatz for interesting discussions on delimiting genera in the Neotropical Schefflera clade. This work was supported by grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation (DEB 0943958, 1556327 and 1556139) and the National Geographic Society (CRE 5793-96, 7415-03, 8355-07). PF thanks the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) for a productivity grant (PQ 306228/2016-5).

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Porter P. Lowry II
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Gregory M. Plunkett
    • 3
  • M. Marcela Mora
    • 1
  • Asunción Cano
    • 4
  • Pedro Fiaschi
    • 5
  • David G. Frodin
    • 6
  • Roy E. Gereau
    • 1
  • Álvaro Idárraga-Piedrahíta
    • 7
    • 8
  • Jáider Jiménez-Montoya
    • 8
  • J. Moisés F. Mendoza
    • 9
  • David A. Neill
    • 10
  • Orlando Rivera-Diaz
    • 11
  • Carlos Rodrigues-Vaz
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Missouri Botanical GardenSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Institut de Systématique, Évolution, et Biodiversité (ISYEB), Unité Mixte de Recherche 7205Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle/Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Sorbonne Universités/École Pratique des Hautes ÉtudesParisFrance
  3. 3.Cullman Program for Molecular SystematicsNew York Botanical GardenBronxUSA
  4. 4.Museo de Historia NaturalUniversidad Nacional Mayor de San MarcosLima 11Perú
  5. 5.Departamento de BotânicaUniversidade Federal de Santa CatarinaFlorianópolisBrazil
  6. 6.Royal Botanic Garden, KewRichmondUnited Kingdom
  7. 7.Fundatión Jardín Botánico de Medellín “Joachím Antonio Uribe”MedellínColombia
  8. 8.Herbario Universidad de Antioquia (HUA)Universidad de AntioquiaMedellínColombia
  9. 9.Herbario del Oriente BolivianoMuseo de Historia Natural Noel Kempff MercadoSanta CruzBolivia
  10. 10.Universidad Estatal AmazónicaPuyoEcuador
  11. 11.Universidad Nacional de ColombiaFacultad de Ciencias, Instituto de Ciencias NaturalesBogotáColombia

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