Nyctaginaceae

Nyctaginaceae

Introduction

The family comprises approximately 30 genera and 300-400 species (Bittrich & Kühn 1993; Spellenberg 2003) of trees, shrub and herbs. These are found in all warmer areas of the world (Douglas & Spellenberg 2010), but mostly in the Americas, with two centres of distribution: the arid western North America (southwestern USA and northern Mexico) and the Neotropics (tropical and subtropical South America and the Antilles). Some genera such as Pisonia, Boerhavia and Mirabilis, have some species occurring in the Old Word, but some of them are introduced (Mirabilis), whereas Commicarpus, with few American species, is most diverse in Africa; Phaeoptilum is endemic to southwestern Africa and Botswana (Bittrich & Kühn 1993; Douglas & Spellenberg 2010).
Recently, Douglas & Spellenberg (2010), based on the molecular phylogeny of the family by Douglas & Manos (2007), made some adjustments to the Bittrich and Kühnʼs classification of 1993, so that seven tribes are recognized: Leucastereae, Boldoeae, Colignonieae, Bougainvilleeae, Pisonieae, Nyctagineae, and Caribeeae; the relationship of the last one with the others is not known since this is only known from the type. Several genera, especially those of North America that include the suffrutescent and herbaceous taxa have been the focus of interest of various studies. However, most of the taxa distributed in the Neotropics including the trees and shrubs in the diverse genera Neea, Guapira and Pisonia are poorly known.

Synonymy

Nyctaginaceae Juss., Gen. Pl.: 90. 1789, nom. cons., sec. APG III (2009)