Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Mac Alford

Advisor Department

Biological Sciences


Achariaceae are a mostly tropical family of flowering plants consisting of about 29 genera and 150 species of trees and shrubs. Although they are closely related to passionflowers (Passifloraceae), violets (Violaceae), and willows and cottonwoods (Salicaceae), phylogenetic relationships of the genera remain unclear because the only studies have been focused on particular genera or had limited sampling. Few studies of the family in general have been conducted, except for some on species that produce chaulmoogra oil, a commonly used historical treatment for leprosy. For my study, I investigated the relationships of the genera within the family using morphological and molecular data. For morphology, I created a data matrix of 37 features, and for DNA, I collected data from one plastid region (ndhF) and one nuclear region (GBSSI). Phylogenetic analyses of these data indicate that the tribes within the family are not monophyletic and that the family consists of two major, fairly well-supported clades. As hypothesized in a previous study, the genera of Phyllobotryeae (two or three) are related to genera of Achariaceae, and not to Salicaceae, and one genus, Ahernia, is more closely related to Salicaceae. Thus, Achariaceae now consist of 32–33 genera.