Early lineage of Larkspur and Monkshood plants rediscovered in Southern Europe

Dec 08, 2011
These are Staphisagria macrosperma follicles. Credit: Florian Jabbour, Susanne S. Renner

Larkspurs, monkshoods, and aconites are plants, widely cultivated for their beauty and medicinal properties. They all belong to the Delphinieae, a natural group of 650-700 species ranging from Eurasia into North America, with a few species on tropical African mountains. The study was published in the open access journal PhytoKeys.

A broadly sampled molecular phylogeny for this group has revealed that three Mediterranean species constitute an ancient separate evolutionary line that is the sister group to all remaining Delphinieae. The British physician John Hill already recognized these species' distinctness in 1756, and Jabbour and Renner here resurrect the genus name he had proposed for them.

This is a Staphisagria macrosperma young inflorescence with floral buds. Credit: Florian Jabbour, Susanne S. Renner

Of the three species in Hill's genus Staphisagria, one is an important found all around the , the other two are endemic to Corsica, Majorca, Sardinia, and the of Hyères in the South of France. In an article in the open access journal Phytokeys, Jabbour and Renner from the Institute of Systematic Botany at the University of Munich illustrate and discuss the newly recognized genus, explaining how its three species share traits that fit neither in Delphinium nor in Aconitum, fitting with their long independent evolutionary history.

Explore further: Sexual selection isn't the last word on bird plumage, study shows

More information: Jabbour F, Renner SS (2011) Resurrection of the genus Staphisagria J. Hill, sister to all the other Delphinieae (Ranunculaceae). PhytoKeys 7: 21. doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.7.2010

Related Stories

DNA solves identities of Australian melons and loofah

Jul 27, 2011

Molecular data have shown that three Australian Cucurbitaceae species initially collected in 1856 but never accepted as separate species are distinct from each other and that one of them is the closest relati ...

Recommended for you

Cats relax to the sound of music

1 hour ago

According to research published today in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery by veterinary clinicians at the University of Lisbon and a clinic in the nearby town of Barreiro in Portugal, music is likew ...

Fruit flies crucial to basic research

2 hours ago

The world around us is full of amazing creatures. My favorite is an animal the size of a pinhead, that can fly and land on the ceiling, that stages an elaborate (if not beautiful) courtship ritual, that can ...

Crete's mystery croc killed by cold snap

2 hours ago

A man-eating crocodile that became an attraction on the Greek island of Crete last year after its mysterious appearance in a lake has died, probably of cold, an official said Monday.

Hunting for living fossils in Indonesian waters

3 hours ago

The Coelacanth (Latimeria menadoensis) was thought to be extinct for more than 60 million years and took the science world by storm in 1938 when it was re-discovered living in South Africa. This fish has ...

An elephant never forgets the way to the watering hole

5 hours ago

A study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B tracked the movement of elephants across the African savannah. The elephants chose the shortest distances towards watering holes, pin-pointing the lo ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.