1984, 22 (2): 89–109
A new system of classification of Magnoliaceae proposed. This paper deals mainly with taxonomy and phytogeography of the family Magnoliaceae on the basis of external morphology, wood anatomy and palynology. Different authors have had different ideas about the delimitation of genera of this family, their controversy being carried on through more than one hundred years (Table I). Since I have been engaged
in the work of the Flora Reipublicae Popularis Sinicae, I have accumulated a considerable amount of information and material and have investigated the living plants at their natural localities, which enable me to find out the evolutionary tendencies and primitive morphological characters of various genera of the family. According to the evolutionary tendencies of the characters and the geographical distribution of this family I propose a
new system by dividing it into two subfamilies, Magnolioideae and Liriodendroideae Law (1979), two tribes, Magnolieae and Michelieae Law, four subtribes, Manglietiinae Law, Magnoliinae, Elmerrilliinae Law and Micheliinae, and fifteen genera (Fig. 1 ), a system which is different from those by J. D. Dandy (1964-1974) and the other authors.
The recent distribution and possible survival centre of Magnoliaceae. The members of Magnoliaceae are distributed chiefly in temperate and tropical zones of the Northern Hemisphere, ——Southeast Asia and southeast North America, but a few genera and species also occur in the Malay Archipelago and Brazil of the Southern Hemisphere. Forty species of 4 genera occur in America, among which one genus (Dugendiodendron) is endemic to the continent, while about 200 species of 14 genera occur in Southeast Asia, of which 12 genera are endemic. In China there are about 110 species of 11 genera which mostly occur in Guangxi, Guangdong and Yunnan; 58 species and more than 9 genera occur in the mountainous districts of Yunnan. Moreover, one genus
(Manglietiastrum Law, 1979) and 19 species are endemic to this region. The family in discussion is much limited to or interruptedly distributed in the mountainous regions of Guangxi, Guangdong and Yunnan. The regions are found to have a great abundance of species, and the members of the relatively primitive taxa are also much more there than in the other regions of the world.
The major genera, Manglietia, Magnolia and Michelia, possess 160 out of a total of 240 species in the whole family. Talauma has 40 species, while the other eleven genera each contain only 2 to 7 species, even with one monotypic genus. These three major genera are sufficient for indicating the evolutionary tendency and geographical distribution of Magnoliaceae. It is worthwhile discussing their morphological characters and
distributional patterns as follows:
The members of Manglietia are all evergreen trees, with flowers terminal, anthers dehiscing introrsely, filaments very short and flat, ovules 4 or more per carpel. This is considered as the most primitive genus in subtribe Manglietiinae. Eighteen out of a total of 35 species of the genus are distributed in the western, southwest to southeast Yunnan. Very primitive species, such as Manglietia hookeri, M. insignis and M. megaphylla, M. grandis, also occur in this region. They are distributed from Yunnan eastwards to Zhejiang and Fujian through central China, south China, with only one species (Manglietia microtricha) of the genus westwards to Xizang. There are several species distributing southwards from northeast India to the Malay Archipelago (Fig. 7).
The members of Magnolia are evergreen and deciduous trees or shrubs, with flowers terminal, anthers dehiscing introrsely or laterally, ovules 2 per carpel, stipule adnate to the petiole. The genus Magnolia is the most primitive in the subtribe Magnoliinae and is the largest genus of the family Magnoliaceae. Its deciduous species are distributed from Yunnan north-eastwards to Korea and Japan (Kurile N. 46’) through Central
China, North China and westwards to Burma, the eastern Himalayas and northeast
India. The evergreen species are distributed from northeast Yunnan (China) to the
Malay Archipelago. In China there are 23 species, of which 15 seem to be very primitive, e.g. Magnolia henryi, M. delavayi, M. officinalis and M. rostrata, which occur in
Guangxi, Guangdong and Yunnan.
The members of Michelia are evergreen trees or shrubs, with flowers axillary, anthers dehiscing laterally or sublaterally, gynoecium stipitate, carpels numerous or few.
Michelia is considered to be the most primitive in the subtribe Micheliinae, and is to
the second largest genus of the family. About 23 out of a total of 50 species of this
genus are very primitive, e.g. Michelia sphaerantha, M. lacei, M. champaca, and M.
flavidiflora, which occur in Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan (the distributional center
of the family under discussion) and extend eastwards to Taiwan of China, southern
Japan through central China, southwards to the Malay Archipelago through Indo-China.
westwards to Xizang of China, and south-westwards to India and Sri Lanka (Fig. 7).
The members of Magnoliaceae are concentrated in Guangxi, Guangdong and Yunnan
and radiate from there. The farther away from the centre, the less members we are
able to find, but the more advanced they are in morphology. In this old geographical
centre there are more primitive species, more endemics and more monotypic genera.
Thus it is reasonable to assume that the region of Guangxi, Guangdong and Yunnan,
China, is not only the centre of recent distribution, but also the chief survival centreof Magnoliaceae in the world.