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Morphometric Analyses and Taxonomic Revision of the North American Holoparasitic Genus Conopholis (Orobanchaceae)

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Members of the small genus Conopholis are perennial holoparasites. They are found growing in eastern and southwestern North America and in Central America, where they attach to the roots of their oak hosts. Two species were recognized in the last taxonomic revision of the group based on geographic range and differences in floral, capsule, and bract morphology. Due to the overlapping nature of the characters used to distinguish between taxa, no single morphological feature can be relied on to differentiate between the species. A recent molecular phylogenetic study of the genus recovered three well-supported lineages, none of which corresponds entirely to the current subdivision of the genus into two species. We undertook a fine-scale morphometric study of the genus, emphasizing calyx and bract morphology. Unweighted pair-group method using arithmetic averages and principal coordinate analyses corroborate molecular data and strongly support the distinction of three separate lineages within Conopholis. A taxonomic re-alignment is proposed for the genus including three species, C. americana, C. panamensis, and C. alpina, each with various degrees of overlap with previously described taxa.
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Keywords: Disjunction; UPGMA; holoparasite; hybrid swarms; morphometrics; principal coordinate analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2013-09-12

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