Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

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Hydrastis canadensis
(Photo by C. Hoot)

The Ranunculaceae is a large and varied family of herbaceous perennials consisting of approximately 66 genera and 2000 species. Members of the family are distributed throughout the world, but are found mainly in temperate to cold regions of the world. The family is so varied morphologically, it is difficult to describe. Some characters found in most genera are: numerous and spiral arrangement of floral parts, apocarpy, and follicle or achene fruits.

The family can be divited into two groups based on chromsome type: either T-type (chromosome size small) or R-Type (large chromosomes. Chromosome size correlates well with molecular trees (Figure 1). All those taxa from Xanthorhiza to Aquilegia have T-type chromosome; the remaining taxa have R-Type.

The Hoot Lab is working actively on this family. A publication to come soon will show a phylogenetic tree with greatly increased sampling, including some rare segregate genera, such as Laccopetalum.

Figure 1. Bootstrap consensus tree for Ranunculaceae based on atpB and rbcL sequence data.

Bibliography:

Hoot, S. B. 1991. Phylogeny of the Ranunculaceae based on epidermal microcharacters and macromorphology. Systematic Botany 16: 741-755.

Hoot, S. B. 1995. Phylogeny of the Ranunculaceae based on preliminary atpB, rbcL and 18S nuclear ribosomal DNA sequence data. Plant Systematics and Evolution (Suppl.) 9: 241-251.

Jensen, U. 1995. Secondary compounds in the Ranunculiflorae. Plant Systematics and Evolution (Suppl.) 9: 285-297.

Jensen, U., S. B. Hoot, J. T. Johansson, and K. Kosuge. 1995. Systematics and phylogeny of the Ranunculaceae - a revised family concept on the basis of molecular data. Plant Systematics and Evolution (Suppl.) 9: 273-280.

Johansson, J. T. 1995. A revised chloroplast DNA phylogeny of the Ranunculaceae. Plant Systematics and Evolution (Suppl.) 9: 253-261.

Tamura, M. 1993. Ranunculaceae. In: The families and genera of vascular plants, VII, eds. Kubitzki, K., J. G. Rohwer, and V. Bittrich. Springer, New York.