Taxonomy of the Ronnbergia Alliance (Bromeliaceae: Bromelioideae): new combinations, synopsis, and new circumscriptions of Ronnbergia and the resurrected genus Wittmackia


The Ronnbergia Alliance is a recently described lineage composed of two highly supported and identifiable clades with strong geographic correlation: the Pacific and the Atlantic clades. These clades, however, are composed by species currently placed in the polyphyletic genera Aechmea, Hohenbergia, and Ronnbergia. This study aims to reorganize the species that comprise both the Pacific and Atlantic clades into stable and predictable taxonomic categories. In this context, the 26 species that compose the Pacific clade are here circumscribed in the genus Ronnbergia, whereas the 44 species grouped in the Atlantic clade are assigned to the resurrected genus Wittmackia. An updated circumscription of these two genera is presented, including a taxonomic key to recognize the species. Additionally, the respective taxonomic transferences and general information to the species are presented in the form of a synopsis. This taxonomic treatment will facilitate future approaches on the study of the systematics, conservation, and evolution of the Ronnbergia Alliance.

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Fig. 1

[source of the phylogeny: Aguirre-Santoro et al. (2016)]

Fig. 2

(af, jk, n: photographs courtesy of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens; g, i: photographs by J. Aguirre-Santoro; h, l-m: photographs courtesy of J. Betancur)

Fig. 3

(a, i, mn: photographs courtesy of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens; b, d: photographs courtesy of T. Wendt; c, eh, j-l, oy: photographs by J. Aguirre-Santoro)


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I am thankful to the New York Botanical Garden, CUNY-Graduate Center, COLCIENCIAS, the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, The Explorers Club of America, and The Systematic Association and Linnaean Society of London for providing funds and resources to carry out this project. I am especially thankful to Fabián A. Michelangeli, Dennis W. Stevenson, Lawrence Kelly, Barbara Thiers, and Wayt W. Thomas from the New York Botanical Garden for their logistic and academic support during this study. I am grateful to the curators of the herbaria B, RB, CEPEC, COL, G, GH, JAUM, HB, HUA, IJ, K, NY, P, SEL, UCWI, and US for providing specimens and images for this study. Finally, I want to thank André Amorim, Eldis Becquer, Julio Betancur, Keron Campbell, Tracy Commock, Lukas Daneu, Rafaela Forzza, Bruce K. Holst, Elton Leme, Raquel Monteiro Fernandes, Andreas Oberli, Paola Pedraza, Gregory Plunkett, Ivón Ramírez-Morillo, and Eugenio Santiago, who directly contributed to the laboratory and field components of this project.


This study was partially funded by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, the Explorers Club of America, the Systematic Association and Linnaean Society of London, and the National Science Foundation (DEB-1343612, DEB-0818399, DEB-0946618).

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Correspondence to Julian Aguirre-Santoro.

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Handling editor: Ricarda Riina.

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Aguirre-Santoro, J. Taxonomy of the Ronnbergia Alliance (Bromeliaceae: Bromelioideae): new combinations, synopsis, and new circumscriptions of Ronnbergia and the resurrected genus Wittmackia . Plant Syst Evol 303, 615–640 (2017).

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  • Atlantic Forest
  • Caribbean
  • Chocó-Darién region
  • Ronnbergia
  • Wittmackia