A monogeneric family comprising three species distributed in tropical South America, in the Guyanas, the Amazonian region and northeastern Brazil (Prance 2003). The family has had a complicated taxonomic history. Traditionally, species which are now placed in Rhabdodendron Gilg & Pilg. were included in different families of Rutales, in the family Chrysobalanaceae (as the genus Lecostemon DC.) (Bentham 1853) or in Rutaceae (Gilg & Pilger 1905; Huber 1909; Thaktajan 1980). In other systems (e.g. Cronquist 1981), Rhabdodendron was placed within Rosales (for a detailed taxonomic history until the seventies see Prance 1972). Based on morphological, palynological and anatomical characters, Prance (1972) considered Rhabdodendron in its own family, and suggested for the first time some affinities with Caryophyllales, specifically with Phytolaccaceae. Later on, the early molecular phylogenetic study of Fay & al. (1997) confirmed the affinities of Rhabdodendraceae with Caryophyllales. Since then, the position of the family within the order was also confirmed by subsequent studies (e. g. Cuénoud & al. 2002; Hilu & al. 2003; Schäferhoff & al. 2009; Brockington & al. 2009, 2011; Qiu & al. 2010; Soltis & al. 2011); although there are several hypothesis about its internal position.
Rhabdodendraceae in Bull. Jard. Bot. État Bruxelles 38. 1968 sec. APG III (2009)
- Type: Rhabdodendron