The taxonomic value of fruit wing types in the order Apiales

Mei Liu, Gregory M. Plunkett, Porter P. Lowry, Ben Erik Van Wyk, Patricia M. Tilney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


This study shows that structural data, when carefully examined, can provide valuable characters for delimiting monophyletic groups and can complement DNA with observable features to recognize and circumscribe taxa. In the angiosperm order Apiales, traditional classification has relied heavily (often exclusively) on fruit characters. Recent molecular systematic studies, however, provided a radically different picture of relationships, calling into question the utility of fruit characters. We have studied fruit anatomy from 18 genera (Annesorhiza, Asteriscium, Astrotricha, Choritaenia, Dasispermum, Elaeoselinum, Heptaptera, Hermas, Heteromorpha, Laretia, Molopospermum, Myodocarpus, Pachypleurum, Peucedanum, Polemanniopsis, Polylophium, Rouya, and Tordylium) that represent all major taxonomic groups of Apiales characterized by winged fruits and the full range of wing types. Fruit anatomy closely corresponded with the phylogenetic position of these genera, as suggested by molecular studies. Fruit features of taxonomic importance include developmental origin of the wings, carpel shape, presence of vittae, woodiness of the endocarp, position of crystals, and type of carpophores. Despite the long history of recognizing umbellifers as a "natural group," few studies have been able to provide structural characters to help circumscribe the clades identified by molecular data. The interpretations presented are an important step toward erecting a stable system of classification for this difficult family.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1357-1368
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Apiaceae
  • Apiales
  • Araliaceae
  • Classification
  • Fruit anatomy
  • Phylogeny
  • Wings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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