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Molecular Phylogeny and Generic Delimitation in the Elegia Group (Restionaceae, South Africa) Based on a Complete Taxon Sampling and Four Chloroplast DNA Regions

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The Elegia group comprises 60 species of African Restionaceae, a large and ecologically dominant element of the Cape flora of South Africa. The recognition of the group was based upon the shared possession of unbranched fertile culms, the presence of a distinct abscission line at the base of the leaf sheaths, and inserted anthers at anthesis. The taxonomy of the group has been problematic, and every monographer of the group used different generic delimitations. Based upon a cladistic analysis of sequence data from multiple chloroplast regions (trnL-F region, atpB-rbcL spacer, trnK intron, matK, and rbcL) for all 60 species, we seek optimal generic groupings that are monophyletic, conservative nomenclaturally, and readily diagnosable using morphological characters. We found no support for the monophyly of the Elegia group, as the genus Askidiosperma, itself forming a clade of 12 species, was placed outside the group. Within the remaining elements we found no acceptable generic groupings, and consequently propose an expanded circumscription of Elegia that includes the genera Chondropetalum and Dovea, as these latter two genera are embedded within the former. New combinations are E. acockii, E. aggregata, E. decipiens, E. ebracteata, E. hookeriana, E. marlothii, E. microcarpa, E. recta, E. tectorum and E. macrocarpa.

Document Type: Regular Paper

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1600/036364405775097842

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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