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Systematics Section / ASPT

Farrell, Bonnie A. [2], Struwe, Lena [1], Hartman, J. M. [2].

Taxonomic status and phylogeny of northern monkshood (Aconitum noveboracense, Ranunculaceae): an endangered species in North America.

Northern monkshood (Aconitum noveboracense, Ranunculaceae) is a federally listed endangered species that occurs in New York State and the driftless area of Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin. It is a toxic, tuberous, perennial herb growing in moist habitats such as algific talus slopes. It is currently threatened by human impact and deer herbivory. A recent treatment in Flora of North America, considers A. noveboracense a synonym of A. columbianum ssp. columbianum (western monkshood). This subspecies is characterized by the complete absence of bulbils. The other subspecies of A. columbianum, ssp. viviparum, always produces bulbils. Histological investigations confirm the infrequent, autumnal presence of axillary bulbils in A. noveboracense, originating from meristematic tissue. Bulbil histology shows shoot and leaf anatomy at the apex and root anatomy at the base. Northern monkshood bulbils may germinate while attached to the parent. Bulbifery may have evolved more than o­nce in Aconitum because A. bhedingense from Nepal also produces bulbils. This evidence supports the validity of accepting the species status of A. noveboracense and disputes its placement within A. columbianum. To further evaluate the taxonomic status, a phylogenetic analysis of quantitative morphological data and ITS sequences from six North American Aconitum species were performed. Parsimony analysis of fourteen Aconitum species using ITS sequences showed that North American A. columbianum and A. delphiniifolium are distinct from European and Asian Aconitum. The data also indicate that ITS might be useful to resolve species relationships within the monophyletic North American Aconitum. A combined analysis of morphological and molecular data provides additional resolution of detailed species relationships in this group. This research is critical because northern monkshood may soon have no legal protection under the Endangered Species Act due to the possible change in species status (from A. noveboracense to a synonym of western monkshood, A. columbianum).

1 - Rutgers University, Ecology, Evolution, & Natural Resources, 14 College Farm Rd, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 08901, USA
2 - Rutgers University, Graduate Program of Plant Biology, 93 Lipman Drive, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 08901, USA

North America
quantitative morphological data matrix
endangered plants.

Presentation Type: Paper
Session: 59-4
Location: Cottonwood A (Snowbird Center)
Date: Wednesday, August 4th, 2004
Time: 2:30 PM
Abstract ID:808

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