Myrtaceae

Background

Work on Myrtaceae has been intermittent at Kew since the time of Bentham (generic overview), with a tropical Asian focus in the 1970s (A.J. Scott), a New World focus since the late 1980s, now expanded to include old and new world taxa with fleshy fruits (tribes Myrteae and Syzygieae). The current multi-disciplinary collaborative programme has been developed over the last twenty years, and has its foundations in: 

1) Kew’s exceptionally type-rich tropical collections; 

2) strong cross-departmental links between the herbarium and the Micromorphology, Biological Interactions and Molecular Systematics sections in the Jodrell Laboratory; 

3) nomenclatural expertise (essential in a family where the combined effects of biology and history have often resulted in nomenclatural disorder). 

Kew staff have a broad generic view across Myrtaceae, however the overall focus of the team has been and continues in resolving systematic relationships in the predominantly South American tribe Myrteae and promoting its conservation. At a lower taxonomic scale, the focus is on the large genus Myrcia s.l. (including Marlierea, Calyptranthes and Gomidesia), comprising c. 750 species and >1,000 binomials). The objectives are achieved by producing consistently high quality data within Kew and from collaboration with an established network of global Myrtaceae researchers.

Kew’s current work on Myrteae and Myrcia s.l. complements that of Landrum (Arizona State University) and collaborators who have approached the tribe with emphasis on Neotropical Myrtinae, and the paleotropical Myrtinae emphasis of Guymer and Snow (Brisbane Botanic Gardens). Other international collaborations include joint publication with Australian (RBG Sydney, University of Adelaide) and New Zealand (University of Dunedin) researchers who have produced or contributed to the latest family and tribal level molecular phylogenies. Collaboration is also strong between Brazilian botanists researching the large genus Eugenia (University of São Paulo - ESA), the cytologically interesting Psidium (University of Campinas), the role of Myrtaceae in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest (Federal University of Minas Gerais, UFMG) and Myrtaceae-specific data repatriation (University of Feira da Santana). Networking with RBG Sydney, Arizona State University, the Marie Selby Botanic Gardens and RBG Edinburgh supports Kew-based molecular systematic and wood anatomical research. Kew staff contributed Myrtaceae and Melastomataceae accounts to Heywood’s Flowering Plants of the World and continue to contribute to collaborative Flora projects (e.g. Flora of São Paulo, Flora of the Guianas, Flora Neotropica).