Overview

Brief Summary

Introduction

The generic names Hyacinthus, Ornithogalum and Scilla have already been in use since ancient Greek times and represent the core genera of Hyacinthaceae. In his Genera Plantarum (1754) Linné based his circumscription of these three genera mainly on characters of the flowers. As a consequence of this decision, distributing the species that are nowadays believed to belong to the plant family Hyacinthaceae into these three genera would result in a highly unnatural classification. Only the splitting of these old genera into numerous and more homogeneous genera finally resulted in a more appropriate classification with the recognition of mainly monophyletic groups. Today the family Hyacinthaceae consists of approximately 70 genera and 1000 species.

The Hyacinthaceae prefer open, sunny habitats with dry and hot vegetation periods. In temperate regions they appear as spring geophytes in deciduous broadleaved forests. A few species like Rhadamanthus urgineoides from Madagascar grow epiphytic on trees in rainforests.

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Comprehensive Description

Description

Herbs with bulbs. Leaves in a basal rosette from the apex of the bulb (in Bowiea and Schizobasis, leaves 0 or much reduced), with or without spots, sometimes papillose or hairy. Inflorescence a raceme or spike on a leafless peduncle (but in Bowiea and Schizobasis much-branched and complex). Flowers greenish to white or yellowish, purplish to purple or blue, often with a green or dark midrib. Perianth segments 6, free or fused into a tube. Ovary superior, 3-locular, with 1-many ovules per loculus. Fruit a loculicidal capsule. Seeds black, sometimes winged.
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© Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten and Petra Ballings

Source: Flora of Zimbabwe

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Economic Uses

The sea onion is found in remedies in herbals and medicinal books since earliest times. Picture taken from the Codex Vindobonensis 93 (13. century)

Charybdis maritima, the sea onion, has been in medicinal use since earliest times and was mentioned as early as 1554 B.C. in the Papyrus Ebers of the Middle Empire of Egypt as a cure for dropsy (Figala, 1972). Bufadienolides isolated from C. maritima and Urginea indica aggr. are used for the production of cardiac active substances (Krenn, 1994). Cardenolides from Ornithogalum have apparently not been utilized so far.

In South Africa, several species such as Eliokarmos thyrsoides, Ledebouria cooperi, L. inguinata, L. ovatifolia, L. revoluta, Zahariadia saundersiae, and several members of subfamily Urgineoideae are poisonous to grazing animals. The toxic compound scilliroside (a bufadienolide) is used for poisoning rats.

Hyacinthaceae are only occasionally used for human consumption. In Greece, the bulbs of Muscari comosum are eaten pickled, and in France, the inflorescences of Loncomelos pyrenaicus are eaten as a vegetable. In Africa, bushmen eat the bulbs of Ledebouria apertiflora and L. revoluta.

More important is the use of various species as ornamentals and cut flowers. Species of Chouardia, Hyacinthoides, Hyacinthus, Muscari, Othocallis, Puschkinia, and Scilla, are spring flowers of Northern Hemisphere parks and gardens. In southern Africa, species of Eucomis, Galtonia, Veltheimia, and others are cultivated as ornamentals. Eliokarmos thyrsoides and related species are important as cut flowers.

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Characteristics

The Hyacinthaceae are mostly bulbous plants with subterraneous or epigeal bulbs. The inflorescence is a raceme bearing one to hundreds of flowers. The superior ovary of the flower discriminates Hyacinthaceae from bulbous plants belonging to the family Amaryllidaceae. Only Bowiea with its hemi-inferior ovary is an exception to this rule. The inflorescence of this unusual genus is a strongly branched raceme - a character only shared with one other genus in the family, Schizobasis. The often prominent scape never bears foliage leaves and thus discriminates Hyacinthaceae from Liliaceae sensu stricto. The flowers are mainly visited by insects or in some genera also by birds.

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Distribution

Geographic Distribution

Geographic distribution of Hyacinthaceae (in green).

The family has main centers of diversity with large numbers of species in southern Africa and the Mediterranean. The monotypic subfamily Oziroeoideae with the single genus Oziroe is found only in Andine South America. The Urgineoideae are distributed from South Africa to the Mediterranean and further to Arabia, India, and Burma. The Ornithogaloideae extend from South Africa and Southern France to Arabia and India, with Loncomelos ranging from the Mediterranean to the Ural mountains. The subfamily Hyacinthoideae has the widest distribution, extending from South Africa to East Asia (Barnardia), India (Ledebouria), Northwest Europe (Tractema), and Central Asia (Bellevalia, Fessia, Muscari).

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Evolution and Systematics

Evolution

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

View Hyacinthaceae Tree

Tree modified from Pfosser & Speta (1999)

Based on chemotaxonomical, morphological, cytological, and molecular data the members of Hyacinthaceae can be divided into the four subfamilies Oziroeoideae, Urgineoideae, Ornithogaloideae, and Hyacinthoideae (Pfosser and Speta, 1999; Speta, 1998a; Speta, 1998b). Enough evidence has accumulated to demonstrate that the North American genera Camassia and Chlorogalum can no longer be included in Hyacinthaceae (Pfosser and Speta, 1999). Instead, rbcL sequence data (Chase et al., 1995; Fay and Chase, 1996), trnL/F sequence data (Pfosser and Speta, 1999), as well as serological data (Cupov and Kutjavina, 1981) point to a relationship of these genera to Agavaceae, Funkiaceae, and Anthericaceae and not to Hyacinthaceae.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
                                        
Specimen Records:63Public Records:60
Specimens with Sequences:60Public Species:42
Specimens with Barcodes:60Public BINs:0
Species:43         
Species With Barcodes:42         
          
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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Barcode data

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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Locations of barcode samples

Collection Sites: world map showing specimen collection locations for Hyacinthaceae

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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Wikipedia

Hyacinthaceae

Scilloideae is a subfamily of the monocot family Asparagaceae in the order Asparagales. The Scilloideae are bulbous flowering plants, which have sometimes been placed in a separate family, the Hyacinthaceae.[1] The subfamily name is derived from the generic name of the type genus, Scilla. Some are popular spring-flowering garden bulbs, such as hyacinth (Hyacinthus), grape hyacinth (Muscari), bluebell (Hyacinthoides) and squill (Scilla). Others are summer- and autumn-flowering, including Galtonia and Eucomis ('pineapple lilies'). Most are native to the Mediterranean climate and neighboring zones in South Africa, the Mediterranean Basin to Central Asia and Burma, and South America.

According to Stevens, there is considerable disagreement as to how genera should be defined in the Scilloideae, with different sources listing from 15 to 45 genera for sub-Saharan Africa. The subfamily thus contains anything between around 40 and 70 genera in up to 1000 species.[2] Pfosser & Speta (1999) are one source of the higher figure.[3] Some genera that were formerly placed within the Scillioideae (as Hyacinthaceae), e.g., Chlorogalum and Camassia, are currently placed in the Agavoideae.[2]

Morphologically the subfamily is characterised by having 6 tepals and 6 stamens with a superior ovary; its members were included in the Liliaceae in many older classification systems, such as the Cronquist system. Other characteristics include rather fleshy mucilaginous leaves arranged in a basal rosette, and the production of poisonous substances (such as bufadienolide), making them inedible.

Genera

The list of genera below is based on the list linked from the Angiosperm Phylogeny Website as of May 2011, with additions from Watson and Dallwitz, 1992 onwards.[2][4]

References

  1. ^ Chase, M.W.; Reveal, J.L. & Fay, M.F. (2009), "A subfamilial classification for the expanded asparagalean families Amaryllidaceae, Asparagaceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae", Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161 (2): 132–136, doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00999.x 
  2. ^ a b c Stevens, P.F. (2001 onwards), Angiosperm Phylogeny Website: Asparagales: Scilloideae, http://www.mobot.org/mobot/research/apweb/orders/asparagalesweb.htm#Hyacinthaceae 
  3. ^ Pfosser, Martin; Speta, Franz (1999), "Phylogenetics of Hyacinthaceae Based on Plastid DNA Sequences", Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden (Missouri Botanical Garden Press) 86 (4): 852– 875, doi:10.2307/2666172, http://jstor.org/stable/2666172 
  4. ^ Hyacinthaceae in L. Watson and M.J. Dallwitz (1992 onwards). The families of flowering plants: descriptions, illustrations, identification, information retrieval. Version: 9th March 2006. http://delta-intkey.com
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