Monanthotaxis Baillon (1890: 878) currently consists of 56 species (Rainer & Chatrou 2006) confined to tropical Africa and Madagascar and is the second most species-rich genus of Annonaceae in Africa after Uvaria Linnaeus (1753: 536). Both genera belong to the tribe Uvarieae Hooker & Thomson (1855: 91, 92). Circumscription of this tribe has recently been modified to comply with the principle of monophyly, and it now almost exclusively consists of climbing species, all from the Old World tropics (Chatrou et al. 2012). Generic circumscription within Uvarieae has been in disarray for considerable time. Delimitation of Uvaria and related genera has recently been modified based on phylogenetic relationships (Zhou et al. 2010, Zhou et al. 2009). Monanthotaxis was monophyletic in Wang et al. (2012), based on a limited sampling of seven species. Subsequent study with increased sampling (Hoekstra, unpub.) has revealed that the African species of Friesodielsia van Steenis (1948: 458) and Exellia Boutique (1951b: 117) are nested in Monanthotaxis. Whatever the solution and taxonomic consequences, the name Monanthotaxis with the type Monanthotaxis congoensis Baillon (1890: 879) will be retained as it is the oldest valid generic name. Along with phylogenetic analysis, we are conducting a taxonomic revision. The last revision of Monanthotaxis and allied genera was published over a century ago by Engler & Diels (1901). Since then, only contributions to local floras have been published (e.g. Boutique 1951a, Le Thomas 1969, Robson 1960, Verdcourt 1971a). While studying the material of Monanthotaxis, we encountered a remarkable new species, which differs from all other species of Annonaceae in its large and lax panicle-like inflorescence. Panicle-like inflorescences are rare in Annonaceae, and those that have been recorded are either congested, as in e.g. Unonopsis and Guatteria (Erkens et al. 2008, Maas et al. 2007), or with only a few flowers, as in Monanthotaxis le-testui Pellegrin (1950: 75). This new species is probably closely related to M. congoensis since they share several characters. Verdcourt (1971b) divided the genus in three subgenera and five sections. In his classification, this new species would join M. congoensis in the typical section Monanthotaxis, which is easily distinguished by having flowers with the four to six petals in a single whorl and less than 17 stamens. Because it is so similar to M. congoensis, our new species will almost certainly be classified within Monanthotaxis, and we decided to publish it before a new generic classification has been completed.
- molecular phylogenetics
- uvaria annonaceae