Temporal range: Mid Cretaceous – Recent 114–0 Ma
R.Br. ex Bercht. & J.Presl
Distribution and ecology
The order contains members mainly distributed in all the tropical regions of the world (including Africa, South America, Australia and Asia). Also, a species is present in China. The species are members of various ecological groups, including tropical shrubs, lianas and trees, xerophytic plants, mycoheterotrophs, as well as different herbaceous representatives.
The Pandanales order is distinctive with its highly variable and hardly definable morphology of the flower, especially the number of stamens and their structure so as many other characteristics. In some of the members, even different interpretations exist about the composition and organization of the reproductive structures. The structure of the inflorescence also varies.
The order includes plants with traits that seem atypical when compared to other groups of monocots. A good example is the female reproductive organ and its position relative to other parts of the flower. Some of the species included in the families Pandanaceae and Stemonaceae show flowers formed from only one carpel, while in the Triuridaceae, a family that lacks chlorophyll, the carpels are free from each other. In fact, the Triuridaceae hold the most doubtful flower morphology from the whole order.
Evolution and phylogeny
Since the morphology of the order varies on such scale, its classification and phylogeny are based on genetic analyses. The order Dioscoreales holds sister relationship with Pandanales by diverging from them around 121 millions of years ago in the mid-Cretaceous. The formation of the crown groups took place with a difference of 2 millions of years between the orders - 116 Mya for the Dioscoreales and 114 Mya for the Pandanales. However, the stem group of the Pandanales is much older and goes back to 130 Mya in the early Cretaceous.
Inside the order, some doubt remains about the position of the entirely mycoheterotrophic family Triuridaceae, since it is the only one on which genetic analyses are not applied. With high probability, the family may be sister to the Velloziaceae, but similarities with the Zingiberaceae family (which is a part of a whole different order – Zingiberales) do not exclude the chance for a different phylogeny. The Velloziaceae family on its own is placed at the base of the tree. The Pandanaceae and Cyclanthaceae are sister groups, and they form a clade which on its own is sister to the Stemonaceae (a family composed of two more clades).
Several species in this order produce strap-like leaves used for basketry; Pandanus (Pandanaceae) is used across Oceania for thatch, basketry, and to make cloth, and Carludovica palmata (Cyclanthaceae) leaves are made into Panama hats. Other members as Stemona are present in traditional Chinese medicine and possess medical properties. Some species are used as insecticides.
The Wettstein system (1935) placed the order in class Monocotyledones and used a different circumscription, incorporating:
The Bentham & Hooker system (1883) had a similar order under the name Nudifloreae, incorporating:
- Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III" (PDF). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
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