Ancistrocladaceae

Ancistrocladaceae

Introduction

A monogeneric family comprising 18 species with a disjunct paleotropical distribution in West and Central Africa and Southeast Asia (Rischer & al. 2005). The family includes only non-carnivorous plants characterized by having nuts, ruminate endosperm and a gynoecium partly inferior with a single ovule (Heubl & al. 2006).
Traditionally, the family was placed either in the order Theales (e.g. Thorne 1992) or Dilleniales (e.g. Thorne 2000). However, the position of the family within Caryophyllales and its close relationship with the “partially carnivorous” Dioncophyllaceae (see there) was shown by the early molecular phylogenetic study of Nandi & al. (1998). These results were confirmed by subsequent studies (e.g. Meimberg & al. 2000; Cuénoud & al. 2002; Hilu & al. 2003; Brockington 2009, 2011; Schäferhoff & al. 2009; Renner & Specht 2011), which have also shown, with high support, that both, Ancistrocladaceae and Dioncophyllaceae are part of the “carnivorous clade” of the Caryophyllales. Other studies focusing on the evolution of carnivory and relationships within this clade (e.g. Heubl & al. 2006; Renner & Specht 2011) suggest that the absence of carnivory in Ancistrocladaceae can be explained as a complete secondary loss of this character.

Synonymy

Ancistrocladaceae Planch. ex Walp. in Ann. Bot. Syst. 2: 175. 1851 sec. APG III (2009)