Petenaeaceae - a new family of flowering plants

March 17, 2011
Petenaea cordata (Image: M. Vorontsova)

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new family of flowering plants has been described to accommodate Petenaea cordata, a species of uncertain affinities.

Petenaea cordata, a species from northern Central America, has been included in Elaeocarpaceae and Tiliaceae, but its familial placement has been uncertain. It was considered a taxon incertae sedis by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG III).

Molecular phylogenetic analyses based on a recent collection made in Guatemala revealed a distant sister-group relationship to the African Gerrardina (Gerrardinaceae, Huerteales). However, a comparison of morphological and anatomical characters did not identify any obvious synapomorphies for Gerrardina and Petenaea, and a new monotypic family, Petenaeaceae, has been described in a paper in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society by scientists from the Natural History Museum, Kew and the University of San Carlos de .

The polymorphic order Huerteales now comprises four small families, Dipentodontaceae, Gerrardinaceae, Petenaeaceae and Tapisciaceae.

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