Lysimachia, one of the largest genera in Primulaceae, has received considerable
attention from many authors and was intensively studied. Klatt (1866) in his wellillustrated monograph described forty-five species in nine sections. Knuth in Engler's
Pflanzenreich (1905) recognized 110 species and divided them into sixteen sections.
Handel-Mazzetti (1928), in a revision of the Chinese species, emumerated 147 species in
the whole world, among them 83 species are from China. He also proposed a new
system by subdividing this genus into five subgenera and 18 sections. He was the first
author to give a due emphasis to the floral structure, especially to the nature of
androecium. We realize that his system seems to be more natural than all of the previous ones; though not without faults the phylogenetic trend of this genus has been
generally elucidated (fig. 1).
In this paper, the basic idea of Handel-Mazzetti was adopted, but some important
alternations have been made for our systematic arrangements:
1. With a marked increase of species discovered recently in our country and ample
materials now at our disposal, we find that the previously accepted distinction between
the subgenus Idiophyton and the sect. Apodanthera of subgenus Lysimachia seems to
be ambiguous and impossible to demarcate clearly. The apically clustered leaves and
the lateral racemes prove to be no longer peculiar to L. insignis Hemsl. alone but in common with at least two other species in the sect. Apodanthera. As to the indehiscent
capsule, it occurs not infrequently in species belonging to the sect. Apodanthera.
Together with these characters, there are even more primitive features of morphological significance such as ligneous stem, short filaments, large basifixed anther mostly
dehisced by apical pores that have never been found in any other group of this genus.
Consequently, we suggest that Handel-Mazzetti's subgeneric conception of Idiophyton
should be amplified to include the sect. Apodanthera.
2. Owing to the undue emphasis given by previous authors on the flower colour
as the major criterion to distinguish the subgen. Palladia from subgen. Lysimachia and
neglecting a number of other characters of equal taxonomical importance, the white
flowered species L. huitsunae Chien has long been erroneusly placed in subgen.
Palladia. After a careful examination, we find that it agrees in all respects with the
species of subgen. Lysimachia morphologically. Furthermore, it bears a strong resemblance both in habit and floral features to L. omeiensis Hemsl. and L. hypericoides
Hemsl. To be sure, it should be a member of Handel-Mazzetti's subsect. Hypericoideae
which we reduced as a series of sect. Nummularia.
Having transferred the white flowered species L. huitsunae Chien to, and excluded
the sect. Apodanthera from this subgenus, we then had to amend the circumscription
of Handel-Mazzetti's subgen. Lysimachia.
3. As a section, Rosulatae comprises only two species indigenous to the coast
region of south China. Handel-Mazzetti put it together with the Hawaiian section
Cilicina to form a subgenus Lysimachiopsis. But, we can hardly find out any tenable
characters to support such a relationship. These two restricted and isolated groups are
lacking evidence either in phytogeographical affinities or in their flower features and
their habit. In view of the fact that the section Rosulatae is closely related to Asian
yellow flowered groups, we think there are reasons for transfering it to the subgenus
4. Morphological evidence shows that L. crispidens Hemsl. is a more specialized
and isolated species in this genus. Its diagnostic characters are: rosulate leaves, scapelike stem, long corolla tube and its unique heterostylandra which may indicate the
origin of heterostyly in other advanced groups of Primulaceae. Phylogenetically, this
species may also represent the topmost twig of one of the evolutional lines in this genus.
It is more reasonable to treat this monotypic section Heterostylandra with subgeneric
In the present study, Lysimachia from China are classified into 5 subgenera with
122 species and 20 varieties in which 24 species and 5 varieties are as new.
In regard to the geographical distribution, Lysimachia occurs all over the world
except northern Siberia, Greenland, northern Canada, Alaska and New Zealand.
Although the total range of the genus as a whole may be said as worldwide, the separate
subgenera or sections are more restricted in distribution. As shown in Table I. the
center of diversity of the genus as well as that of the distribution proves apparently
to be in China. Out of a total of about 180 species ascribed to this genus, 122 are from
this country. In addition, most of its subgenera and sections are endemic here. It is
worth mentioning that the species endemic to China now are up to 110 in number.
Furthermore, it may be seen that starting from this center the number of species
becomes less and less as they proceed towards different directions, and in particular
the primitive sections and species disappear rapidly (fig. 2).
However, the distribution pattern of species over the whole area of our country is
uneven. Lysimachia has scarcely ever been found in northern Tibet, Qinghai,
Xinjiang, Gansu and Nei Monggol, and only a few species occur in northern and northeastern China. The majority of the species inhabit regions below 32°N. Lat. The
greatest concentration of the species of this genus appears in the following provinces,
such as Yunnan, southern Sichuan, western Guizhow and Guangxi. We have found
that the great abundance of the species and well-known taxa of phylogenetical importance are all existing in this region, and the representatives of more primitive taxa are
also much richer here than in any other regions of the world.
Considering the foregoing floristic evidence and the relative antiquity of the area
geologically, it may be reasonable to presume that the center of origin of this genus
may be in the south-western part of China.
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