Australian Systematic Botany Australian Systematic Botany Society
Taxonomy, biogeography and evolution of plants

Morphological variation and phylogenetic relationships within Eucalyptus series Subulatae (Myrtaceae) of southern Australia

D. Nicolle A B , M. A. Whalen A and D. A. Mackay A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Biological Sciences, The Flinders University of South Australia, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Systematic Botany 19(1) 59-86
Submitted: 10 September 2004  Accepted: 24 May 2005   Published: 27 February 2006


Morphological variation within Eucalyptus series Subulatae, a group of mallee and woodland tree taxa distributed across southern Australia, was assessed by adult and seedling characteristics. A phenetic study included a total of 51 adult morphological characters and 37 seedling characters, which were assessed for 564 individuals representing 163 populations, covering the broad geographical distribution of the series. All taxa included in the series by either Johnson and Hill (1999) or Brooker (2000) were included together with E. angustissima, E. cooperiana, E. falcata and E. salmonophloia, all of which have been at times included in, or considered closely related to, E. ser. Subulatae. The phenetic analyses indicate that the four subseries of Brooker (2000) are morphologically distinct, although their distinctiveness is only evident from seedling characters. The two subseries that Johnson and Hill (1999) recognise (subser. Flocktonianosae and Transcontinentalosae) corresponding to Brooker’s (2000) subser. Decurrentes, are more weakly defined. Southern populations of E. dolichocera are not considered here to belong to this species but rather to belong to a different subseries based on seedling morphology. A phylogenetic analysis of 44 morphological characters and 23 species of E. ser. Subulatae and 24 species from variously related taxa suggest that E. ser. Subulatae may not be monophyletic. Eucalyptus brockwayi and E. salmonophloia are basal to E. ser. Subulatae and all of the other taxa included in the analysis. Within E. ser. Subulatae, subsers Oleaginae and Spirales are both monophyletic. Both the phylogenetic and phenetic analyses strongly suggest that E. brockwayi is unique in several characters, including some not previously recognised, and is best placed in a monotypic series. The position of E. aspersa remains unresolved, but is probably best retained in E. subser. Decussatae. A key to the subseries of E. ser. Subulatae is presented and putative intersubserial, interserial and intersectional hybrids involving the series are cited.


The senior author thanks John Connors, Malcolm French and Bob Nicolle for field support and assistance, Denise and Malcolm French for hospitality while in Western Australia and Ian Brooker and Malcolm French for ongoing discussions about eucalypts and general advice. Stephen Hopper (Kings Park, Perth), Peter Lang (DENR, Adelaide), Peter White (CALM, Narrogin) and Andrew Slee (CSIRO, Canberra) provided locality information and other data on some taxa. We thank the staff of AD, CANB, MEL, NSW, PERTH and U for allowing us access to their facilities, specimens and data. This work was undertaken at The Flinders University of South Australia with funding support from a Flinders University ARC Small Research Grant, a National Parks Foundation of South Australia Research Grant and support from the Mark Mitchell Research Foundation. CSIRO Plant Industry, Canberra, provided support that allowed for the collection of specimens in the deserts of SA and WA The collection of herbarium specimens and accompanying seed to grow progeny as part of this study was undertaken with the following scientific research permits. New South Wales: A2278; Northern Territory: 6404; Queensland: W0/001981/97/SAA; South Australia: Z24187 1, K24185 1; Victoria: 10001395; Western Australia: NE001372, SL003358, SL004012, SW005045, SL005679.


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