Araliaceae

Araliaceae

Araliaceae is a family of flowering plants, also known as the Aralia family (after its type genus Aralia) or Ivy family. The family includes 254 species of trees, shrubs, lianas and perennial herbaceous plants into 2 subfamilies. Species usually bear pinnately or palmately compound leaves, and usually have small flowers produced in large panicles.

The family is closely related to Apiaceae and Pittosporaceae, and the boundaries between these families and other members of Apiales are still uncertain. Some recent systems included Araliaceae in an expanded Apiaceae but this has not been widely followed. Molecular phylogenies suggest that at least some of the genera traditionally included in Apiaceae as subfamily Hydrocotyloideae appear to be more closely related to Araliaceae, and the inclusion of Hydrocotyle and Trachymene in Araliaceae has been recommended (Chandler & Plunkett 2004).

The generic level classification of Araliaceae has been unstable; in particular, numerous genera have been synonymized under Schefflera. Recent molecular phylogenies have shown that this large pantropical genus is polyphyletic and it is likely that it will be divided once again into several genera in the near future.

References and external links

  • Chandler, G.T. and G. M. Plunkett. 2004. Evolution in Apiales: nuclear and chloroplast markers together in (almost) perfect harmony. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 144: 123-147 (abstract).
  • Frodin, D. G. and R. Govaerts. 2004. World Checklist and Bibliography of Araliaceae. Kew Publishing.
  • Plunkett, G.M., Soltis, D.E. & Soltis, P.S. 1997. Clarification of the relationship between Apiaceae and Araliaceae based on MATK and RBCL sequence data. American Journal of Botany 84: 565-580 (available online; pdf file).
  • Wen, J., G. M. Plunkett, A. D. Mitchell, and S.J. Wagstaff. 2001. The Evolution of Araliaceae: A Phylogenetic Analysis Based on ITS Sequences of Nuclear Ribosomal DNA. Systematic Botany 26: 144–167 (abstract).
  • Araliaceae Resource Center

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