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Published In: Characteres Generum Plantarum 45, pl. 23. 1776. (Char. Gen. Pl.) Name publication detail

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 10/8/2020)
Acceptance : Accepted
Taxon Profile     (Last Modified On 7/20/2021)
Description: Hermaphroditic unarmed, glabrous to pubescent, terrestrial, evergreen small trees or shrubs. Stems well branched, pachycaulous, often slightly succulent. Leaves alternate, petiolate, the bases clasping with connate and often ligulate stipules; blades palmately compound; leaflets ovate, elliptical, or obovate, membranaceous to chartaceous, entire to toothed, sessile or petiolulate. Inflorescences terminal or pseudolateral, erect, paniculate, the ultimate units small umbellules, racemules, or spicules; bracts present, caducous; pedicels slender, unarticulated. Flowers small, calyx forming a low rim; petals 5, valvate, free; stamens isomerous with petals, thecae 2; carpels 5; ovary inferior, styles free; the disc flat to slightly convex. Fruits small drupes, glabrous, globose, the endocarps crustaceous to boney. Endosperm uniform.
Distribution: Eight species restricted to islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean: Fiji (2 spp.), New Caledonia (3. spp.), New Zealand (1. sp.), Samoa (1. sp.), and Vanuatu (1 sp.).

Until recently, Schefflera was circumscribed very broadly to include about 600 species from throughout the tropics (Frodin and Govaerts, 2003 [2004]), but recent phylogenetic studies (in particular Plunkett et al., 2005) established that the genus comprised five distinct, geographically and morphologically well-delimited clades scattered across the major lineages of Araliaceae, none of which were sister groups. The type of the genus (S. digitata), from New Zealand, belongs to smallest of these clades, which includes just 8 species, all from islands in the southwest Pacific, necessitating the transfer of all of the remaining species long placed in Schefflera to other genera. This led to the resurrection of Astropanax and Neocussonia to accommodate species belonging to the Afro-Malagasy clade (Lowry et al., 2017), Heptapleurum for the Asian clade (Lowry and Plunkett, 2020), Plerandra for the Melanesian clade (Lowry et al., 2013), and three genera for members of the Neotropical clade, Crepinella (Lowry et al. 2019b), Didymopanax (Fiaschi et al., 2020), and Sciodaphyllum (Lowry et al., 2019a), along with the description of two new genera in the Neotropics, Cephalopanax and Frodinia (Plunkett et al., 2021).

As currently circumscribed, Schefflera includes just eight species: S. candelabrum Baill., S. digitata J.R. Forst. & G. Forst., S. euthytricha A.C. Sm., S. neoebudica Guillaumin, S. pseudocandelabrum R. Vig., S. samoensis (A. Gray) Harms, S. vieillardii Baill., and S. vitiensis (A. Gray) Seem.

The taxonomic history of Schefflera sensu lato was reviewed in depth by Plunkett et al. (2005) and Frodin et al. (2010), and phylogenetic studies have been published that provide insights into relationships within four of the five clades it comprises, viz. for the Afro-Malagasy clade (Gostel et al., 2017), the Asian clade (Plunkett et al., 2020), the Melanesian clade (Plunkett and Lowry, 2012), and the Neotropical clade (Plunkett et al., 2020).



Lower Taxa

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