Member of the nettle family > Kew Science > Projects > Systematics, taxonomy and evolution of the nettle family, Urticaceae

Systematics, taxonomy and evolution of the nettle family, Urticaceae

Building a new classification and discovering the drivers of diversification at the generic and species level.

Project details

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Objectives and outputs

The Urticaceae comprise 50 genera and about 2,500 species of herbs, shrubs and trees. Controversy exists over the inclusion of the Cecropiaceae. Current research is delivering a revised classification and linear sequence which will be used to test hypotheses about the drivers of diversification, in particular with respect to wind-polination and karst.


  • New classification and linear sequence of the Urticaceae.
  • Flora of Cuba Urticaceae treatment.
  • Flora of Thailand Urticaceae treatment.
  • Role of karst in driving Urticaceae species richness.
  • The role of female flora morphology in Urticaceae diversification.


  • Classification and linear sequence of the Urticacea published.
  • Dated ultrametric phylogeny established.
  • Flora of Cuba taxonomic treatment for the Urticaeae.
  • Phylogeny and revised classification of Elatostema sensu latu.
  • Establishment of Urticaceae floral diagrams.

Partners and collaborators


Guangxi Institute of Botany-Guilin Botanical Garden

Natural History Museum of Denmark-University of Copenhagen

Normal University of Taiwan

Universidade do Centro-Oeste, Brazil

National Botanic Garden of Cuba


Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh


Monro, A.K., Wilmot-Dear, C.M. & Friis, I (2015). Urticaceae. In: Flora Mesoamericana Volume 2 Part 3, Chapter: Urticaceae, Publisher: Universidad Autónoma de México, Missouri Botanical Garden, The Natural History Museum (London), Editors: G. Davidse, M. Sousa S., S. Knapp, F. Chiang, pp.116-174

Wu, Z.-Y., Monro, A.K., Milne, R.I., Wang, H., Yi, T.-S., Liu, J. & Li, D.-Z. (2013). Molecular phylogeny of the nettle family (Urticaceae) inferred from multiple loci of three genomes and extensive generic sampling. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 69:814-827. DOI:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.06.022

Wilmot-Dear, C.M., Friis, I. & Monro, A.K., C. M. (2014). Pouzolzia saxophila sp.

Monro, A.K. (2010). Urticaceae. In: Milliken, W., Klitgaard, B., Baracat, A. & Hind, N. (eds). Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics. 33: 354–357 DOI: 10.1111/njb.00675

Wei,Y.-G., Monro, A.K. & Wang, W.-T. (2013). Additions to the Flora of China: three new species of Elatostema (Urticaceae) from Guangxi. Phytotaxa 147 (1): 1–12