J Syst Evol ›› 1985, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (4): 275-292.

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A Revision of the Chinese Millettia (Papilionoideae) (Cont.)

Wei Zhi   

  1. (Zhejiang Museum of Natural History, Hangzhou)
  • Published:1985-08-18

Abstract: The genus Millettia Wight et Arn. contains about 200 species and is distributed mainly in the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and Africa, only a small proportion of species extending towards the northern and southeastern coast of Australia. About half of species are found in Asia, with the greatest concentration in the area from the eastern Himalayas to the hills of Indo-China, i.e. the valleys Irrawaddy, Salween and upper Mekong (Lan-tsang River). Then, there are much fewer species occurring in central and southeastern China, Japan, Indo-China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, India and Pakistan. Twigs or stems of some Millettia species arc being used ethnopharmacologically as drugs for oral preparations in China. They appear to possess a tendency of so-called “carminative or stimulant” activities in many home-remedies, but most plants of this genus are poisonous and have recommended as a source of insecticide or used by the natives to stupefy fish. The scientific and common names of many species are puzzled in a confused manner. In the present paper the author reports 35 species with 11 varieties from China, of which five species with four varieties are described as new, eight species are new records to the Chinese flora. Since Wight and Arnott established the genus in 1834, it has had a taxonomic history with so many errors and confusions. The major contribution to the taxonomy of this genus was made by Dunn in 1912, who monographed the genus on a worldwide scale and grouped all 138 species known by then into 15 sections based on morphological characters, while in the Chinese flora 6 sections and 14 species were recognized. Dunn’s work is not very satisfactory because the relationships between sections and descriptions of species are disordered and confused. Unfortunately, there was little work on this genus for almost seventy years. Here the phylogenetic relationships among thirty-five species of Chinese Millettia were investigated by using the Wagner’s method, and twenty-six characters were used and assigned as primitive or specialized states. All taxa recognized ave considered as Operational Taxonomic Units, to which linked are the character divergence values for each. Then the mutual groupings between taxa are determined. The Wagner tree resulted from above procedure indicats that the Millettia species in China belong to six phylogenetic groups, which ate treated here as sections, i.e. Acinacicarpae, Macrospermae, Millettia, Corynecarpae, Brevistylae and Curvistylae. The section Acinacicarpae is characterized by its tropical tree habit, axillary racemiferous panicle, scimitar-shaped and flat pod, which is the widest in the upper part. The section Millettia includes those species from erect shrubs to moderate-sized trees, and they are probably widely distributed in the mesophytic forests. The section Macrospermae has developed a type of large tropical and subtropical liana, with distinctly turgid pod which may indicate a specialized and isolated group of the genus. The following sections are characterized by terminal and axillary panicled inflorescences, climbing or twining shrub habits. The section Eurybotryae and section Curvistylae are the progressive groups which extend northward into warm-temperate regions. And the section Corynecarpae seems to form an intermediate form between the raceme and the panicle. Besides sectional relationships the species ars also recognized based on distinct combinations of morphological characters, geographic ranges, and ecological characteristics. Among the species this paper deals with 18 are endemic to China, and the rest are also found in northern India and Indo-China.

Key words: Papilionoideae, Millettia, Sect.Acinacicarpae, Sect.Macrospermae, Sect.Millettia, Sect.Corynecarpae, Sect.Eurybotryae, Sect.Curvistylae