Lemon myrtle Backhousia citriodora, photographed by Derek Boddington.

Belongs within: Myrtales.
Contains: Melaleuceae, Myrteae, Leptospermeae, Chamelaucieae, Eucalypteae, Kanieae, Metrosideros, Syzygieae.

The Myrtaceae are a family of trees and shrubs found worldwide. In older classifications, members of the family were divided primarily on the basis of whether they produced fleshy or capsular fruits but more recent phylogenetic studies have downplayed this distinction. Instead, the majority of Myrtaceae are placed in a subfamily Myrtoideae, members of which have mostly bisexual flowers with stamens inflexed in the bud. The southern African lavender tree Heteropyxis natalensis and the Mascarene Psiloxylon mauritianum form the subfamily Psiloxyloideae with dioecious plants and stamens that are not inflexed in the bud. In Heteropyxis natalensis, the fruits are capsules containing winged seeds whereas Psiloxylon mauritianum produces berries and unwinged seeds (Wilson et al. 2005).

Within the Myrtoideae itself, relationships are less well established, but Wilson et al. (2005) did find some support for placing the tribes Lophostemoneae and Xanthostemoneae as sister to the remaining myrtoids. Both of these tribes are found in Australasia and south-east Asia. Xanthostemoneae have the ovary almost superior and produce subspherical fruit; Lophostemoneae have the ovary inferior to half-inferior and their fruit is usually a capsule (Kjellbergiodendron celebicum produces fleshy, indehiscent fruit).

Other myrtoid tribes include the Backhousieae, an Australian assemblage bearing dry, indehiscent fruits, and with the embryo hypocotyl bent to lie against one cotyledon in the seed. The Tristanieae are an Indo-Australian group, united by molecular data, of trees and shrubs with opposite leaves producing yellow to red flowers. Molecular data also unite the Metrosidereae which produce capsular fruits and are most diverse in the south Pacific region. The myrtle mangrove Osbornia octodonta is an Indo-Australian mangrove species producing leathery, indehiscent fruits with a single seed (Wilson et al. 2005).

Characters (from the Angiosperm Phylogeny Website): Ethereal oils present; wood fibers with distinctly bordered pits; leaves with gland dots; apex of connective glandular.

<==Myrtaceae [Chamelauciaceae, Kaniaceae, Leptospermaceae, Melaleucaceae, Myrrhiniaceae]WO05
    |--Psiloxyloideae [Heteropyxidoideae, Heteropyxioideae]WO05
    |    |--Heteropyxis [Heteropyxidaceae, Heteropyxideae]WO05
    |    |    `--H. natalensisWO05
    |    `--Psiloxylon [Psiloxylaceae, Psiloxyleae]WO05
    |         `--P. mauritianiumWO05
    `--Myrtoideae [Acmenoideae, Kanioideae, Leptospermidae, Leptospermoideae]WO05
         |  |    |--+--Kjellbergiodendron celebicumWO05
         |  |    |  `--Whiteodendron moultonianumWO05
         |  |    `--+--Welchiodendron longivalveWO05
         |  |       `--LophostemonWO05
         |  |            |--L. confertusWO05
         |  |            |--L. grandiflorusB00
         |  |            |    |--L. g. ssp. grandiflorusB00
         |  |            |    `--L. g. ssp. ripariaB00
         |  |            `--L. suaveolensWO05
         |  `--XanthostemoneaeWO05
         |       |--PleurocalyptusWO05
         |       |--PurpureostemonWO05
         |       `--XanthostemonWO05
         |            |--X. aurantiacusWO05
         |            |--X. chrysanthusWO05
         |            |--X. eucalyptoidesLK14
         |            |--X. paradoxusS85
         |            |--X. psidioidesLK14
         |            |--X. pubescensH42
         |            `--X. umbrosusLK14
            |  `--Osbornia [Osbornieae]WO05
            |       `--O. octodonta Mueller 1862HS14
               |  |--Syncarpia [Syncarpieae]WO05
               |  |    |--S. glomuliferaWO05
               |  |    |--S. hilliiWO05
               |  |    `--S. laurifoliaB88
               |  |--+--Lindsayomyrtus [Lindsayomyrteae]WO05
               |  |  |    `--L. racemoidesWO05
               |  |  `--+--LeptospermeaeWO05
               |  |     `--ChamelaucieaeWO05
               |  `--EucalypteaeWO05
                  `--+--+--Metrosidereae [Metrosiderineae]WO05
                     |  |    |--Tepualia stipularisWO05
                     |  |    |--MetrosiderosWO05
                     |  |    `--CarpolepisWO05
                     |  `--+--Cloezia floribundaWO05
                     |     `--Backhousia [Backhousieae, Backhousiineae]WO05
                     |          |  i. s.: B. bancroftiiC16
                     |          |--B. citriodoraWO05
                     |          `--+--B. myrtifoliaWO05
                     |             `--Choricarpia subargenteaWO05
                             |    |--X. angustifoliaH03
                             |    `--X. papuanaWO05
                             `--+--Thaleropia queenslandicaWO05
                                     |--T. confertaB88
                                     |--T. glaucaBMM99
                                     |--T. neriifoliaWO05
                                     `--T. suaveolensH42
Myrtaceae incertae sedis:
    |--J. albaT-W89
    |--J. aquaeaT-W89
    |--J. domesticaT-W89
    `--J. vulgaris [incl. Eugenia jambos]C55
  Rhodomyrtophyllum Rüffle & Jähnichen 1976HL08
    |--R. psidioides Rüffle, Müller-Stoll & Litke 1976HL08
    `--R. reticulosum (Rossmässler) Knobloch & Kvaček in Knobloch et al. 1996 (see below for synonymy)HL08
  Lithomyrtus retusaLK14
  Myrtophyllum Turczaninow 1869CBH93
  Myrtaceidites lisamae [=Syncolporites lisamae]CBH93

Rhodomyrtophyllum reticulosum (Rossmässler) Knobloch & Kvaček in Knobloch et al. 1996 [=Phyllites reticulosus Rossmässler 1840; incl. Dicotylophyllum sinuatum Bandulska 1924, Rhodomyrtus sinuata Bandulska 1931, Rhodomyrtus sinuatum (Bandulska) Walther in Mai & Walther 1985, Rhodomyrtophyllum tristanoides Rüffle & Jähnichen 1976]HL08

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A78] Ananthakrishnan, T. N. 1978. Thrips galls and gall thrips. Zoological Survey of India, Technical Monograph 1: 1–69, 26 pls.

[B88] Bouček, Z. 1988. Australasian Chalcidoidea (Hymenoptera): A biosystematic revision of genera of fourteen families, with a reclassification of species. CAB International: Wallingford (UK).

[BMM99] Braun, U., J. Mouchacca & E. H. C. McKenzie. 1999. Cercosporoid hyphomycetes from New Caledonia and some other South Pacific islands. New Zealand Journal of Botany 37: 297–327.

[C55] Candolle, A. de. 1855. Géographie Botanique Raisonée: Ou exposition des faits principaux et des lois concernant la distribution géographique des plantes de l’époque actuelle vol. 2. Librairie de Victor Masson: Paris.

[CBH93] Collinson, M. E., M. C. Boulter & P. L. Holmes. 1993. Magnoliophyta (‘Angiospermae’). In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 809–841. Chapman & Hall: London.

[H03] Heads, M. 2003. Ericaceae in Malesia: vicariance biogeography, terrane tectonics and ecology. Telopea 10 (1): 311–449.

[HL08] Henniger, M., & R. Leder. 2008. Eozäne Makroflora der Querfurter Mulde. Mauritiana 20 (2): 229–251.

[H42] Hill, G. F. 1942. Termites (Isoptera) from the Australian Region (including Australia, New Guinea and islands south of the Equator between 140°E. longitude and 170°W. longitude). Commonwealth of Australia Council for Scientific and Industrial Research: Melbourne.

[HS14] Huisman, J. M., & A. Sampey. 2014. Kimberley marine biota. Historical data: marine plants. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 84: 45–67.

[LK14] Lyons, M. N., G. J. Keighery, L. A. Gibson & T. Handasyde. 2014. Flora and vegetation communities of selected islands off the Kimberley coast of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 81: 205–244.

[S85] Sadlier, R. A. 1985. A new Australian scincid lizard, Ctenotus coggeri, from the Alligator Rivers region, Northern Territory. Records of the Australian Museum 36: 153–156.

[T-W89] Tenison-Woods, J. E. 1889. On the vegetation of Malaysia. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, series 2, 4 (1): 9–106, pls 1–9.

[WO05] Wilson, P. G., M. M. O’Brien, M. M. Heslewood & C. J. Quinn. 2005. Relationships within Myrtaceae sensu lato based on a matK phylogeny. Plant Systematics and Evolution 251: 3–19.

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