The Bambusoideae is a subfamily of the true grass family Poaceae, and is characterized by having 3 stigmas and are mostly tree-like. However, there are uncertainties at practically every taxonomic level within the Bambusoideae, and different types of data (floral morphology, vegetative structures, anatomy, and genetics) often result in support for differing relationships.
The Bambusoideae generally consists of a distinct “core” group of genera, the woody bamboos (Bambuseae) and an associated group of genera of questionable affinity, the herbaceous bamboos (Olyreae). The bambusoid taxa have long been considered the most “primitive” grasses, mostly because of the presence of bracteate, indeterminate inflorescences, “pseudospikelets,” and flowers with three lodicules, six stamens, and three stigmas.
In a recent study  DNA sequences for the chloroplast gene ndhF were analyzed to address phylogenetic relationships among the major lineages of the Poaceae. They found that two tribes of neotropical herbaceous bamboo tribes, the Streptochaeteae and Anomochloeae, are resolved as the most basal clade within the grass family, confirming the hypothesis that elements within the Bambusoideae sensu lato are basal within the Poaceae, and also showing that the Bambusoideae s.l. is polyphyletic. A recent study which analyzed the phylogenetic relationships within the Bambusoideae using rp116 intron sequence data from chloroplast DNA was able to further resolve some of the uncertainties remaining in Clark et al.’s (1995) analysis. Kelchner and Clark’s (1997) analysis resolved a Bambusoideae clade with two monophyletic groups: the Bambuseae (woody bamboos) and the Olyreae/Parianeae (herbaceous bamboos).
Within the Bambuseae two clades were recovered corresponding to temperate and tropical woody bamboos, and the tropical taxa were even further divided into New World and Old World clades. The distinct lineages produced strongly correspond with geographic divisions, with major clades representing the New World herbaceous species (Olyreae/Parianeae), New World tropical woody bamboos, Old World tropical woody bamboos, and North temperate woody bamboos (all Bambuseae).
Bambusoideae is divided into two groups:
- the Oryzodae
- the Bambusodae
It has 13 tribes, as following:
- This group is also separated into subfamily Oryzaceae.
- Tribe Anomochloeae
- Tribe Diarrheneae
- There is one genus: Diarrhena.
- Tribe Ehrharteae
- Tribe Olyreae
- Tribe Oryzeae
- Tribe Phaenospermatae
- There is 1 genus in this tribe: Phaenosperma.
- Tribe Phareae
- Tribe Phyllorhachideae
- Tribe Streptochaeteae
- There is one genus: Streptochaeta.
- Tribe Streptogyneae
- This tribe only has one genus: Streptogyna.
- Tribe Bambuseae
- This tribe comprises woody bamboos (or hardy bamboos). There are 91 genera, distributed into several subtribes:
- Subtribe Arthrostylidiinae
- Subtribe Arundinariinae
- Subtribe Bambusinae
- Subtribe Chusqueinae
- Subtribe Guaduinae
- Subtribe Melocanninae
- Subtribe Nastinae
- Subtribe Racemobambodinae
- Subtribe Shibataeinae
- Tribe Guaduelleae
- There is one genus: Guaduella.
- Tribe Puelieae
- There is one genus: Puelia.
- Tribe Bambuseae
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- Judd, WS, CS Campbell, EA Kellogg, PF Stevens, MJ Donoghue [eds.]. 2008. Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach, 296-301. Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland, Massachusetts USA.
- Clark, LG, W Zhang, JF Wendel. 1995. A Phylogeny of the Grass Family (Poaceae) Based on ndhF Sequence Data. Systematic Botany 20(4): 436-460.
- (Clark et al., 1995)
- Kelchner, SA, LG Clark. 1997. Molecular Evolution and Phylogenetic Utility of the Chloroplast rpl16 Intron in Chusquea and the Bambusoideae (Poaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 8(3): 385-397.
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