From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Temporal range: Mid Cretaceous – Recent 116–0 Ma
Tamus communis02.jpg
Dioscorea communis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Dioscoreales


Dioscoreales is a botanical name for an order of flowering plants. Of necessity it contains the family Dioscoreaceae which includes the yam that is used as an important food source in many regions around the globe.


In APG III system, of 2009, (unchanged from APG II system, of 2003) this order was placed in the clade monocots and comprised the families Burmanniaceae, Dioscoreaceae and Nartheciaceae.

Under the APG system of 1998, the order was placed in the clade monocots and comprised the families Burmanniaceae, Dioscoreaceae, Taccaceae, Thismiaceae and Trichopodaceae

In APG II, the family Thismiaceae has been included in family Burmanniaceae and the families Taccaceae and Trichopodaceae have been included in family Dioscoreaceae. Therefore the change is not as large as might appear, and the only plants to have moved across the borders of the order are those belonging to family Nartheciaceae.

The Cronquist system, of 1981, did not recognise such an order, but placed most such plants in order Liliales in subclass Liliidae in class Liliopsida (monocotyledons) of division Magnoliophyta (angiosperms).

Under the Dahlgren system, Dioscoreales was placed in the superorder Lilianae in subclass Liliidae (monocotyledons) of class Magnoliopsida (angiosperms) and comprised the families Dioscoreaceae, Petermanniaceae, Ripogonaceae, Smilacaceae, Stemonaceae, Taccaceae, Trichopodaceae and Trilliaceae.

Ecology and Evolution[edit]

Narthecium ossifragum - bog asphodel

The three families included in order Dioscoreales also represent three different ecological groups of plants. Dioscoreaceae contains mainly vines (Dioscorea) and other crawling species (Epipetrum). Nartheciaceae on the other hand is a family composed of herbeceous plants with a rather lily-like appearance (Aletris) while Burmanniaceae is entirely myco-heterotrophic group.

The data for the evolution of the order is collected from molecular analyses[2] since there are no such fossils found. It is estimated that Dioscoreales and its sister clade Pandanales split up around 121 millions of years ago during Early Cretaceous when the stem group was formed. Then it took 3 to 6 millions of years for the crown group to differentiate in Mid Cretaceous.

Description and Distribution[edit]

Species from this order are distributed across all of the continents except Antarctica. They are mainly tropical representatives but however there are members of Dioscoreaceae and Nartheciaceae families found in cooler regions of Europe and North America. Order Dioscoreales contains plants that are able to form an underground organ for reservation of nutritions as many other monocots. An exception is the family Burmanniaceae which is entirely myco-heterotrophic and contains species that lack photosynthetic abilities. All of the species except the genera placed in Nartheciaceae express simultaneous microsporogenesis.[3] Plants in Nartheciaceae show successive microsporogenesis which is one of the traits indicating that the family is sister to all the other members included in the order.


External links[edit]