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Pollen of Polygalaceae (project completed 2008)

This project provides pollen data to assist systematic studies and the resolution of the closest relatives to family Leguminosae. It also provide baseline data to support further evolutionary research.

Pollen morphology in Polygalaceae

Leguminosae and close relatives in the Fabales clade are an important focus of research at Kew. In the most recent eudicot molecular phylogenies, Leguminosae occur in the eurosid I clade along with Polygalaceae, Surianaceae and Quillajaceae, although the closest relatives are still to be resolved. These putative sister groups were previously poorly documented palynologically. This project provides pollen data to assist systematic studies, resolve the closest relative to Leguminosae, and support further evolutionary research. A survey of the pollen of Surianaceae and Quillajaceae was published in 2005 (Claxton et al., 2005) and an account of the pollen of Polygalaceae was published in 2008 (Banks et al., 2008). No previous systematic account of pollen in Polygalaceae had been published. This work presents pollen descriptions and illustrations of all genera, including new information on many species and the first photomicrographs of eight genera. Tables of pollen characters, pollen measurements and previous publication details make this project an important basis for further studies; for example, contribution of pollen morphological characters to multidataset phylogenetic analyses, and underpinning further studies on the evolution of pollen, flower and pollination systems in the Fabales clade.


Key publications

  • Banks, H.I., Klitgaard, B.B., Claxton, F., Forest, F. & Crane, P.R. (2008). Pollen morphology of the family Polygalaceae (Fabales). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 156: 253-289.
  • Claxton, F., Banks, H., Klitgaard, B.B & Crane, P.R. (2005). Pollen morphology of families Quillajaceae and Surianaceae (Fabales). Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 133: 221-233.

Project partners and collaborators


Natural History Museum

Project team

Herbarium, Library, Art & Archives

Gwilym Lewis, Bente Kliltgård, Peter Crane (Honorary Research Associate)

Jodrell Laboratory

Hannah Banks, Frances Claxton

Science Teams: 
Project Leader: