Journal Article

The phylogenetic significance of the carpophore in Apiaceae

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

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 110, issue 8, pages 1531-1543
Published in print December 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online September 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
The phylogenetic significance of the carpophore in Apiaceae

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and aims

Fruit structural characters have traditionally been important in the taxonomy of the family Apiaceae. Previous investigations using a limited number of taxa have shown that the carpophore may be especially useful in helping to circumscribe subfamily Azorelloideae. The present study examines, for the first time, carpophore structure in 92 species from 43 genera, representing all subfamilies of Apiaceae, and including all genera assigned to subfamily Azorelloideae. Phylogenetic interpretations are made for the first time, using all available information, and a standard terminology is proposed to describe the various character states found in carpophores.


Carpophore structure was studied in detail using light microscopy.

Key Results

Carpophores, when present, may be categorized into two main groups (B and C) based mainly on the arrangement of the vascular bundles in transverse section, and further divided into six sub-types according to the length of the carpophore (short in B1 and C1) and whether they are entire (B1–B3 and C1) or bifurcate (B4 and C2). Free carpophores are absent in subfamily Mackinlayoideae, and in tribes Lichtensteinieae and Phlyctidocarpeae, which have two opposite vascular bundles (Group A). Entire carpophores with one or two vascular bundles, or bifurcate carpophores with lateral vascular bundles (arranged side by side within the commissural plane), are the main types characterizing Azorelloideae. The short, hygroscopic carpophores found in Choritaenia are unique in Apiaceae and provide additional evidence for the exclusion of this genus from Azorelloideae. Carpophore type C2 is typical for most Apioideae sensu lato (exceptions are, for example, Arctopus and Alepidea, which have type B2).


A single carpophore and ventral vascular bundles not forming free carpophores are proposed to be the ancestral conditions in Apiaceae, while bifurcate carpophores with opposite vascular bundles are the derived state, present in most Apioideae. Secondary reductions seem to have occurred in several unrelated lineages in all major groups, e.g. many Azorelloideae, several protoapioids (including nearly all members of the tribe Saniculeae) and 29 euapioid genera (e.g. some Oenantheae).

Keywords: Apiaceae; Apiales; Azorelloideae; carpophore; descriptive terminology; euapioids; phylogeny; protoapioids; Umbelliferae; vascular bundle

Journal Article.  7867 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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