Basal Apiales


Melanophylla alnifolia Baker

Recent molecular systematic studies by Plunkett (1994, pers. comm.) and Plunkett et al. (1995) suggest a placement for the Malagasy endemic Melanophylla (8 spp.) at the base of the Apiales among the genera Aralidium (1 sp., W. Malesia), Toricellia (3 spp. E. Himalayas to W. China), and Griselinia (6 spp., New Zealand and Chile), all of which have been recognized at the family level. Whether they constitute a clade is still unresolved insofar as several shared indels (insertion/deletion events) within the matK chloroplast gene are plesiomorphic and also shared with outgroup Cornales. Nevertheless, Melanophylla may be closest to Aralidium, reflecting possible rafting on India for their common ancestor as well as for Toricellia, and, in addition, an austral dispersal for Griselinia (first appearance in New Zealand in Miocene (Mildenhall 1980)), a scenario potentially analogous to the Hicksbeachiinae (Proteaceae).

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