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Vaccinium myrtillus

The order Ericales (Arne A. Anderberg)

The Ericales project aims at a better understanding of the phylogenetic interrelationships in the order Ericales.

Investigations based of molecular data have shown that this order comprise the families Marcgraviaceae, Tetrameristaceae, Pellicieraceae, Polemoniaceae, Fouquieriaceae, Theaceae, Ternstroemiaceae, Sladeniaceae, Pentaphylacaceae, Symplocaceae, Styracaceae, Diapensiaceae, Lecythidaceae (incl. Scytopetalaceae), Sapotaceae, Ebenaceae (incl. Lissocarpaceae), Maesaceae, Theophrastaceae, Primulaceae, Myrsinaceae, Actinidiaceae, Roridulaceae, Sarraceniaceae, Clethraceae, Cyrillaceae, and Ericaceae.

The Heath family, Ericaceae, has in a number of publications been demonstrated to be a paraphyletic assemblage of genera. Preliminary cladistic analyses of morphological as well as molecular data indicate that the families Pyrolaceae, Monotropaceae, Empetraceae and Epacridaceae, all have evolved from ancestors within the Ericaceae. The East Asian genus Enkianthus with less than 20 species, is the sister group of all other Ericaceae. The species of the 'Pyrolaceae' and the 'Monotropaceae' constitute a small monophyletic group forming specialized mycorrhizal associations. The 'Empetraceae' belong to the subfamily Rhododendroideae and are adapted to wind pollination, as indicated by their reduced flowers with enlarged and lobed stigmas. The mainly Australian group 'Epacridaceae' are related to the Andromedoid-Vaccinioid complex, but have a reduced number of stamens.

Ericaceae is sister to Cyrillaceae, and together they are sister to Clethraceae. To the same clade belongs also Actinidiaceae, Roridulaceae, and Sarraceniaceae.

Lysimachia clethroides
The Primrose family and its closes relatives of the former Primulales has been reclassified to comprise four families, Maesaceae, Theophrastaceae, Primulaceae, and Myrsinaceae. Maesa is sister to the three other families, but Samolus is sister to the Theophrastaceae, and many genera, i.e. Coris, Ardisiandra, Stimpsonia, and the genera of the Lysimachiinae, belong to the Myrsinaceae.
Cyclamen species
Theaceae are not monophyletic as Pentaphylacaceae is sister to Ternstroemiaceae, and the two genera Sladenia and Ficalhoa form a monophyletic group that is sister to Pentaphylacaceae and Ternstroemiaceae. Theaceae does not group with this clade.

The Ericales research project is supported financially by the Swedish Natural Science Research Council (VR), and different parts are conducted in cooperation with Kathleen A. Kron (Winston-Salem), Scott Mori (New York) and Chih-Hua Tsou (Taipei), Mari Källersjö, Ulf Swenson and Per Ola Karis (Stockholm), and include Ph.D.-student Ulrika Manns.