Classification of the Leguminosae-Papilionoideae: A Numerical Re-assessment



The subdivision of the Leguminosae-Papilionoideae into taxa of lower rank was subject for major discrepancies between traditional classifications while more recent phylogenetic studies provided no decisive answer to this problem. As a contribution towards resolving this situation, 81 morphological characters were recorded comparatively for 226 species and infra-specific taxa belonging to 75 genera representing 21 of the 32 tribes currently recognized in this subfamily. The data matrix was subjected to cluster analysis using the Sørensen distance measure and Ward’s clustering method of the PC-ord version-5 package of programs for Windows. This combination was selected from among the 56 combinations available in this package because it produced the taxonomically most feasible arrangement of the genera and species. The 75 genera are divided into two main groups A and B, whose recognition requires little more than the re-alignment of a few genera to resemble tribes 1-18 (Sophoreae to Hedysareae) and tribes 19-32 (Loteae to Genisteae), respectively, in the currently accepted classification. Only six of the 21 tribes represented by two or more genera seem sufficiently robust as the genera representing each of them hold together in only one of the two major groups A and B. Of the 29 genera represented by more than one species each 17, 7 and 5 are taxonomically coherent, nearly coherent and incoherent, respectively. The currently accepted circumscription and inter-relationships among the disrupted tribes and genera are in need of much detailed investigation.

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