Classification Above the Genus, as Exemplified by Gesneriaceae, With Parallels From Other Groups

  • B. L. Burtt
Part of the Plant Systematics and Evolution / Entwicklungsgeschichte und Systematik der Pflanzen book series (SYSTEMATICS, volume 1)


Gesneriaceae is used as the starting point for a consideration of some aspects of classification between family and genus. Gesneriaceae may be split into two subfamilies, one with normal cotyledons, the other with one cotyledon becoming enlarged after germination: a parallel is drawn with the use of the plane of foliar distichy in Zingiberaceae .In both cases the resulting improvements are shown to be vital to the clear recognition and statement of evolutionary problems.

The status of Klugieae, one of the 4 tribes of Gesneriaceae-Cyrtandroideae is re-examined and its elevation to subfamily is discussed in relation to the system of the family. There is a rather general trend against simple dichotomy at subfamily level, but its retention in Gesneriaceae is recommended. The complexity of various classifications between family and genus is assessed by use of the ratio between number of genera and the rank immediately above (terminal suprageneric taxa) and the number of the latter that are monogeneric. When these ratios are too low a system looses much of its practical value.

The treatment of possible linking genera between major groups is discussed in relation to Jerdonia (Scrophulariaceae/Gesneriaceae) and Triplostegia (Dipsacaceae/Valerianaceae). The existence of such links does not justify the union of the families. In contrast, new evidence confirms the very close relationship of Selaginaceae to Scrophulariaceae tribe Manuleeae. This is not dependent on a small linking genus: the affinity is much closer than is that of Manuleeae to most other tribes of Scrophulariaceae, and the reduction of Selaginaceae to tribal rank must therefore be upheld.


Flowering Plant World Genus Simple Dichotomy Family Rank Foliage Leaf 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. L. Burtt
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Botanic GardenEdinburghScotland, UK

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