The genus Hydrangea s.l. (Hydrangeaceae), a favorite among gardeners, comprises more than 80 species that are important understory plants in natural temperate and subtropical forests of the Northern Hemisphere. These species are hypervariable in morphology, especially in indumentum and floral characters, warranting a thorough exploration of the complex evolutionary history of morphological characters of the genus. Ideally, this is done within a robust phylogenetic framework with extensive taxon sampling. In this study, we propose a comprehensive taxonomic reassessment of Hydrangea based on a reconstruction of its molecular phylogeny based mainly on the chloroplast genome (plastome) and the most representative taxon sampling reported to date. Phylogenomic reconstruction yielded five well-resolved major clades and three newly recognized subclades. Inspection of the 28 characters employed in traditional taxonomic revisions revealed homoplasy in many of these traits. Our results show that characters such as growth habit, woody stem type, number of enlarged marginal sepals, style and stamen number, fruit shape, and ovary position are useful for circumscribing infrageneric divisions. Unique synapomorphies are limited. For example, herb and subshrub growth habits are associated with all the species in H. sect. Deinanthe and sect. Cardiandra, respectively. Character state combinations are proposed for distinguishing infrageneric taxa. Based on a robust phylogenetic framework, our findings suggest a complex evolutionary history of Hydrangea morphological characters. Following the criterion of monophyly and considering the morphological consistency and synapomorphy of single and combined characters to diagnose relevant lineages, we update the classification of Hydrangea into 5 subgenera and 19 sections. Our proposed taxonomic scheme, based on a robust phylogenetic framework and in-depth character study, provides an updated perspective on the infrageneric subdivision of Hydrangea s.l.

, , , , ,
Staff publications

Yang, Xudong, Xue, Tiantian, Gao, Tiangang, Liang, Yunfen, Smets, E., Gadagkar, Sudhindra R., & Yu, Shengxiang. (2024). An updated infrageneric classification based on phylogenomics and character evolution in Hydrangea (Hydrangeaceae). TAXON, 2024. doi:10.1002/tax.13158

Full Text ( Final Version , 3mb )
Imposed Embargo until:
Sat, September 21 2024 at 00:00 (CEST)