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Under Construction


Lucinda A. McDade and Carrie Kiel
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Note: this taxon list is still under construction. It does not yet contain all known Blepharis subgroups.

The list above includes only taxa that were sampled by McDade et al. (2005).  There are many other species of Blepharis as treated by Vollesen (2000); these likely belong to this clade but this needs to be confirmed with further study.
Containing group: Acantheae


Blepharis is the largest genus of Acantheae in the Old World; it was recently monographed by Vollesen (2000) as containing 129 species.  Phylogenetic analyses using molecular data indicate that the genus is monophyletic with the somewhat enigmatic exception of B. dhofarensis which is placed with species of Acanthus, with strong support. Our results also clearly point to two very well supported subclades within Blepharis;  these correspond  to Vollesen's (2000) subgenera Acanthodium and Blepharis.


Plants belonging to this genus have leaves in pseudowhorls and extremely odd dimorphic filaments:  the anterior pair is laterally flattened and bears a remarkable appendage distally (i. e., near the anther).  This appendage is usually tooth- or finger-like but is sometimes rounded.  The posterior pair is 'normal':  narrower and unappendaged.  These plants also have seeds with hygroscopic (i. e., water absorbing) trichomes.

The two subclades of Blepharis are both very strongly supported by molecular data and one, subgenus Blepharis, is also extremely well marked by morphological synapomorphies:  inflorescences are reduced, the corolla limb has three (rather than five) lobes, and the fertile portion of each anther locule is reduced to 1/2 - 2/3 of the total anther length.  In contrast,  subgenus Acanthodium is not marked by synapomorphies that we have been able to identify.  It is interesting in this context that Vollesen suggested that Acanthodium is the least advanced of the two subgenera.


McDade, L. A., T. F. Daniel, C. A. Kiel, and K. Vollesen. 2005. Phylogenetic relatinships among Acantheae (Acanthaceae): Major lineages present contrasting patterns of molecular evolution and morphological differentiation. Systematic Botany 30: 834-862.

Vollesen, K. 2000. Blepharis (Acanthaceae): a taxonomic revision. Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens.

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Blepharis sinuata (Nees) C.B Clarke, McDade & Dold
Location South Africa
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Copyright © 2006
Scientific Name Blepharis natalensis Oberm.
Location Kwazulu-Natal, near Weenen, South Africa
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Identified By K. Balkwill
Collection J
Collector K. Balkwill et al.
Copyright © 2006
Scientific Name Blepharis Juss.
Location Davenham, South Africa
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Collection J
Copyright © 2006
Scientific Name Blepharis longispica C.B. Clarke
Location Kwazulu-Natal, Green Fram, South Africa
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Collection J
Collector K. Balkwill et al
Copyright © 2006
About This Page

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont, California, USA

Carrie Kiel
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Lucinda A. McDade at and Carrie Kiel at

All Rights Reserved.

Citing this page:

McDade, Lucinda A. and Carrie Kiel. 2006. Blepharis. Version 12 September 2006 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Blepharis/52312/2006.09.12 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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