Lemon myrtle Backhousia citriodora, photographed by Derek Boddington.

Belongs within: Myrtales.
Contains: Melaleuceae, Myrteae, Eucalyptus, Leptospermeae, Chamelaucieae, Kanieae, Metrosideros, Syzygieae.

The Myrtaceae are a family of trees and shrubs found worldwide. In older classifications, members of the family were divided primarily on the basis of whether they produced fleshy or capsular fruits but more recent phylogenetic studies have downplayed this distinction. Instead, the majority of Myrtaceae are placed in a subfamily Myrtoideae, members of which have mostly bisexual flowers with stamens inflexed in the bud. The southern African lavender tree Heteropyxis natalensis and the Mascarene Psiloxylon mauritianum form the subfamily Psiloxyloideae with dioecious plants and stamens that are not inflexed in the bud. In Heteropyxis natalensis, the fruits are capsules containing winged seeds whereas Psiloxylon mauritianum produces berries and unwinged seeds (Wilson et al. 2005).

Within the Myrtoideae itself, relationships are less well established, but Wilson et al. (2005) did find some support for placing the tribes Lophostemoneae and Xanthostemoneae as sister to the remaining myrtoids. Both of these tribes are found in Australasia and south-east Asia. Xanthostemoneae have the ovary almost superior and produce subspherical fruit; Lophostemoneae have the ovary inferior to half-inferior and their fruit is usually a capsule (Kjellbergiodendron celebicum produces fleshy, indehiscent fruit). The Eucalypteae are a primarily Australian group producing flowers bearing numerous free stamens, borne on a stemonophore, and often with a calyptrate perianth. The Tristanieae are an Indo-Australian group, united by molecular data, of trees and shrubs with opposite leaves producing yellow to red flowers. Molecular data also unite the Metrosidereae which produce capsular fruits and are most diverse in the south Pacific region (Wilson et al. 2005).

Characters (from the Angiosperm Phylogeny Website): Ethereal oils present; wood fibers with distinctly bordered pits; leaves with gland dots; apex of connective glandular.

<==Myrtaceae [Chamelauciaceae, Kaniaceae, Leptospermaceae, Melaleucaceae, Myrrhiniaceae] WO05
    |  i. s.: Jambosa vulgaris [incl. Eugenia jambos] C55
    |         Rhodomyrtophyllum Rüffle & Jähnichen 1976 HL08
    |           |--R. psidioides Rüffle, Müller-Stoll & Litke 1976 HL08
    |           `--R. reticulosum (Rossmässler) Knobloch & Kvaček in Knobloch et al. 1996 (see below for synonymy) HL08
    |         Lithomyrtus retusa LK14
    |         Myrtophyllum Turczaninow 1869 CBH93
    |         Myrtaceidites lisamae [=Syncolporites lisamae] CBH93
    |--Psiloxyloideae [Heteropyxidoideae, Heteropyxioideae] WO05
    |    |--Heteropyxis [Heteropyxidaceae, Heteropyxideae] WO05
    |    |    `--H. natalensis WO05
    |    `--Psiloxylon [Psiloxylaceae, Psiloxyleae] WO05
    |         `--P. mauritianium WO05
    `--Myrtoideae [Acmenoideae, Kanioideae, Leptospermidae, Leptospermoideae] WO05
         |--+--Lophostemoneae WO05
         |  |    |--+--Kjellbergiodendron celebicum WO05
         |  |    |  `--Whiteodendron moultonianum WO05
         |  |    `--+--Welchiodendron longivalve WO05
         |  |       `--Lophostemon WO05
         |  |            |--L. confertus WO05
         |  |            |--L. grandiflorus LK14
         |  |            |    |--L. g. ssp. grandiflorus LK14
         |  |            |    `--L. g. ssp. riparius LK14
         |  |            `--L. suaveolens WO05
         |  `--Xanthostemoneae WO05
         |       |--Pleurocalyptus WO05
         |       |--Purpureostemon WO05
         |       `--Xanthostemon WO05
         |            |--X. aurantiacus WO05
         |            |--X. chrysanthus WO05
         |            |--X. eucalyptoides LK14
         |            |--X. paradoxus S85
         |            |--X. psidioides LK14
         |            |--X. pubescens H42
         |            `--X. umbrosus LK14
         `--+--+--Melaleuceae WO05
            |  `--Osbornia [Osbornieae] WO05
            |       `--O. octodonta WO05
            `--+--+--Myrteae WO05
               |  |--Eucalypteae [Eucalyptineae] WO05
               |  |    |  i. s.: Allosyncarpia WO05
               |  |    |--+--Eucalyptopsis papuana WO05
               |  |    |  `--Stockwellia quadrifida WO05
               |  |    `--+--Eucalyptus WO05
               |  |       `--Arillastrum gummiferum WO05
               |  |--Syncarpia [Syncarpieae] WO05
               |  |    |--S. glomulifera WO05
               |  |    |--S. hillii WO05
               |  |    `--S. laurifolia B88
               |  `--+--Lindsayomyrtus [Lindsayomyrteae] WO05
               |     |    `--L. racemoides WO05
               |     `--+--Leptospermeae WO05
               |        `--Chamelaucieae WO05
               `--+--Kanieae WO05
                  `--+--+--Metrosidereae [Metrosiderineae] WO05
                     |  |    |--Tepualia stipularis WO05
                     |  |    |--Metrosideros WO05
                     |  |    `--Carpolepis WO05
                     |  `--+--Cloezia floribunda WO05
                     |     `--Backhousia [Backhousieae, Backhousiineae] WO05
                     |          |  i. s.: B. bancroftii C16
                     |          |--B. citriodora WO05
                     |          `--+--B. myrtifolia WO05
                     |             `--Choricarpia subargentea WO05
                     `--+--Syzygieae WO05
                        `--Tristanieae WO05
                             |--Xanthomyrtus WO05
                             |    |--X. angustifolia H03
                             |    `--X. papuana WO05
                             `--+--Thaleropia queenslandica WO05
                                `--Tristania WO05
                                     |--T. conferta B88
                                     |--T. glauca BMM99
                                     |--T. neriifolia WO05
                                     `--T. suaveolens H42

Rhodomyrtophyllum reticulosum (Rossmässler) Knobloch & Kvaček in Knobloch et al. 1996 [=Phyllites reticulosus Rossmässler 1840; incl. Dicotylophyllum sinuatum Bandulska 1924, Rhodomyrtus sinuata Bandulska 1931, Rhodomyrtus sinuatum (Bandulska) Walther in Mai & Walther 1985, Rhodomyrtophyllum tristanoides Rüffle & Jähnichen 1976] HL08

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B88] Bouček, Z. 1988. Australasian Chalcidoidea (Hymenoptera): A biosystematic revision of genera of fourteen families, with a reclassification of species. CAB International: Wallingford (UK).

[BMM99] Braun, U., J. Mouchacca & E. H. C. McKenzie. 1999. Cercosporoid hyphomycetes from New Caledonia and some other South Pacific islands. New Zealand Journal of Botany 37: 297–327.

[C08] Cambage, R. H. 1908. Notes on the native flora of New South Wales. Part VI. Deepwater to Torrington and Emmaville. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 33 (1): 45–65, pls 1–2.

[C55] Candolle, A. de. 1855. Géographie Botanique Raisonée: Ou exposition des faits principaux et des lois concernant la distribution géographique des plantes de l’époque actuelle vol. 2. Librairie de Victor Masson: Paris.

[CBH93] Collinson, M. E., M. C. Boulter & P. L. Holmes. 1993. Magnoliophyta (‘Angiospermae’). In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 809–841. Chapman & Hall: London.

[H03] Heads, M. 2003. Ericaceae in Malesia: vicariance biogeography, terrane tectonics and ecology. Telopea 10 (1): 311–449.

[HL08] Henniger, M., & R. Leder. 2008. Eozäne Makroflora der Querfurter Mulde. Mauritiana 20 (2): 229–251.

[H42] Hill, G. F. 1942. Termites (Isoptera) from the Australian Region (including Australia, New Guinea and islands south of the Equator between 140°E. longitude and 170°W. longitude). Commonwealth of Australia Council for Scientific and Industrial Research: Melbourne.

[LK14] Lyons, M. N., G. J. Keighery, L. A. Gibson & T. Handasyde. 2014. Flora and vegetation communities of selected islands off the Kimberley coast of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 81: 205–244.

[S85] Sadlier, R. A. 1985. A new Australian scincid lizard, Ctenotus coggeri, from the Alligator Rivers region, Northern Territory. Records of the Australian Museum 36: 153–156.

[WO05] Wilson, P. G., M. M. O'Brien, M. M. Heslewood & C. J. Quinn. 2005. Relationships within Myrtaceae sensu lato based on a matK phylogeny. Plant Systematics and Evolution 251: 3–19.

Last updated: 29 January 2022.

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