Altingia (Altingiaceae) is a tropical to subtropical Asian genus of lowland trees for which 5-15 species have been recognized. Morphological diversity, particularly of the mature infructescence, has been poorly known, especially for species with relatively localized and narrow distributions, and our understanding of Altingia has lagged behind that of its close temperate relative Liquidambar (sweet gum). In this contribution, mature infructescence structure, at the levels of anatomy, morphology, and micromorphology, and some distinctive inflorescence features, are described for five recognized species of Altingia, some for the first time. In the phylogenetic framework of both morphology and molecules, characters of Altingia contrast with those of Liquidambar and suggest that character evolution within Altingiaceae is at least partly related to geographic and climatic distribution. Differences in rates of evolution and morphological convergence suggest complex patterns of diversification in Altingiaceae at several different phylogenetic levels: (1) at the deep nodes, characters of the stem lineage fossil Microaltingia persist into crown group Altingiaceae, morphological stasis; (2) at the generic level, convergence within both Liquidambar and Altingia toward their respective habitats; (3) at the infrageneric level, morphological divergence in species diversification within Altingia, in response to diverse habitats of the eastern Asian subtropics; and (4) within the intercontinental disjunct species pair L. orientalis-L. styraciflua, morphological stasis.
- Morphological stasis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science