Caryophyllaceae

Caryophyllaceae

Introduction

A family of chiefly opposite-leaved herbs comprising about 100 genera and 3000 species. The family is widely distributed in north-temperate, montane and alpine areas with a centre of diversity in the eastern Mediterranean and Irano-Turanean region, while presence in the tropics and the Southern Hemisphere is limited and mostly at higher elevations (Bittrich 1993c; Rabeler & Hartman 2005a). Several taxa (esp. species of Dianthus, Gypsophila, and Silene) are important in the horticultural trade while others (e.g., Stellaria media (L.) Vill.) have become widely known weedy taxa. The number of genera included here is over 10% higher than most recent estimates (Bittrich 1993c; Rabeler & Hartman 2005a; Harbaugh & al. 2010), reflecting the results of recent molecular studies on large genera (esp. Minuartia; Dillenberger & Kadereit 2014) as well as retention of several genera (e.g., Myosoton, Velezia, and Xerotia) that may eventually disappear. The family is monophyletic as circumscribed by Bittrich (1993c), although the “traditional” division into three subfamilies (Bittrich 1993c; Pax & Hoffmann 1934) based on stipule, petal, sepal, and fruit features does not provide monophyletic groups and should be replaced with the tribe-based scheme presented by Harbaugh & al. (2010) and confirmed by subsequent studies (e.g. Greenberg & Donoghue 2011).

Synonymy

Caryophyllaceae Juss., Gen. Pl.: 299. 1789, nom. cons., sec. APG III (2009)