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Genera Palmarum: the Evolution and Classification of Palms Edition 2 - COMPLETED 2008

An award winning, benchmark monograph of the palm family.
Genera Palmarum Edition 2 will become the standard reference text for information on palm systematics and diversity. © Bill Baker

In August 2008, Genera Palmarum: The Evolution and Classification of Palms, by John Dransfield, Natalie Uhl, Conny Asmussen-Lange, William Baker, Madeline Harley and Carl Lewis was published by Kew, in association with the International Palm Society and the L.H. Bailey Hortorium, Cornell University. It succeeds the first edition published in 1987 by Natalie Uhl and John Dransfield, which became the standard reference for palms and inspired much new research. The new Genera Palmarum is a radically different publication, entirely rewritten and extended to 732 pages, and contains a wealth of new data cast within a phylogenetic framework. It represents the culmination of long-standing collaborations among the three Kew authors and colleagues from Cornell University, University of Copenhagen and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

The core of the book comprises definitive treatments of all 183 accepted genera, many described since the first edition, including the giant Tahina from Madagascar that was discovered as the new manuscript was being completed. For every genus a detailed description with nomenclature and etymology is provided along with notes on distribution, ecology, anatomy, phylogenetic relationships, common names and uses. Each account is copiously illustrated with photographs (more than 500 in total), pollen micrographs, distribution maps and analytical drawings by Marion Ruff Sheehan and Lucy T. Smith. All suprageneric groups from subtribe to subfamily are treated in detail and keys provided to groups at all ranks.

Nine introductory chapters contain authoritative reviews of palm morphology, pollen, cytology, chemistry, fossils, phylogeny and evolution, biogeography, natural history, conservation and the classification of palms. An updated version of the classification published recently by the authors of Genera Palmarum (Kew Bull. 60: 559–569 (2005)) is used throughout the book and reflects the latest phylogenetic evidence. The book concludes with geographical listings, an illustrated glossary, an extensive bibliography and indices.

Launched in 2008, Genera Palmarum received the 2009 Annual Literature Award of the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries. It is now established as the standard text for palm researchers and enthusiasts alike.


Project partners and collaborators


Asmussen-Lange, Conny (University of Copenhagen)


Lewis, Carl (Fairchild Tropical Garden)

Uhl, Natalie (Cornell University)

Project funders

USAInternational Palm Society

Project Department