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APG classification 06[edit]

Malvaceae sensu APG has subfamilies


For more details see my page

Stewart R. Hinsley

Ok, but this classification (fide APG) is so radical that tends to lead Taxonomy into chaos. Moving about 138 genera (!) to make up subfamilies is unacceptable! And the stability of the system? It is the Chaos!

Berton 13:22, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

Couple of points = 1) botanists seem to find the APG classification acceptable (see all the journal articles using it), and they're the people whose opinion counts on this matter. 2) I had the impression from reading talk:Flowering_Plant that WikiPedia has a policy of using APG. Stewart R. Hinsley
Obviously, unanimity is not an appanage neither of the botanists, nor of the wikipedians. Berton 14:12, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

Brya's edits[edit]

User:Brya's general edit has some major flaws, the worst being that the lead paragraph doesn't actually say what "Malvaceae" is. Someone clicking "random page" and who is not already a botanist can only guess that it's a plant family, and even then have nothing relating it to commonly-seen types of plants. Also we only need one link to each other family name mentioned, and "APG" needs to be explained (which is why the previous version had a link for it). I'm inclined to revert almost all of this change, retaining only a bit of the technical details of family circumscription. What do others think? Stan 13:58, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Well, Malvaceae is many things to many people, but strictly speaking, that is defining it precisely, it is a botanical name at the rank of family. It cannot be defined more precisely than that.
The name will usually belong to an existing family, but this is not necessarily so. The name may be vacant.
Which existing family it belongs to is a matter of Point of View and following the NPoV policy I tried to deal with the various points of view as carefully as I could.
With at least two other Users involved with fairly pronounced points of view, I tried to be as precise as possible. I will agree that this might not have been good for readability but until there is something like agreement on how to represent the various points of view this is more or less inevitable.
As for not watching this Talk page, well I can count at least six Talk pages that might contain relevant comments, and indeed I did not faithfully patrol them all. I am just doing the best I can. I hope you approve of the re-edit. Brya 15:24, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
For my thoughts - firstly, I don't see any point in listing every 19th & 20th century botanist who has ever accepted its old trad circumscription. Also the page is well-nigh unreadable, with the grammar and sentence structure in most of it needing a lot of cleaning up. It looks as though it has been written largely by people who learnt English as a second language, rather than native-born. For starters, the page could do with a thorough colonic irrigation to clean out most of the colons, which should be used very sparingly if at all in good prose. - MPF 16:34, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
For the most part I think Brya's edits are good ones. Unfortunately there are going to be similar problems of circumscription in many plant families, as we are in the middle of a major period of rapid flux due to the numerous molecular phylogenies that are being published at all taxonomic levels. When the dust finally settles, I think most but not all of the changes to the "traditional" classifications will be accepted. Meanwhile we're in the middle of a blinding taxonomic sandstorm in which it's easy to lose one's bearings. All Wikipedia can do is reflect the various major classifications, compare and contrast them, discuss who accepts which ones, and why. MrDarwin 16:48, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
Again, firstly there needs to be a degree of agreement on respective points of view. Besides, copy-editing is the enemy of providing information. Native born English tends to fall into idiom, incomprehensible to people interested in content rather than literary figure of speech.
As a general item, I feel it would be a lot better if people were to add content, rather than argue PoV's. Brya 16:47, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the response! First off, I love having the technical description of family boundary - as a strictly amateur botanist, that's the sort of thing I want to learn more about, and this article is exactly the right place to do it. At the same time, I was a neophyte of plants not too long ago, and an opening sentence like "The name Malvaceae is a botanical name at the rank of family" borders on the meaningless to non-botanists. As this is a general encyclopedia, the first paragraph needs to be nontechnical and context-setting, with the more extended discussion occurring as one goes down further into the article; see Wikipedia:Lead section and related pages for more explanation of this point. Although tremendously interested in the subject, I've actually been inhibited from working on plant articles because it's never clear to me just what should be in them. So that this discussion is not just me carping, I propose that we use the plants wikiproject to define standard content for articles about different levels of taxa, perhaps even propose taxobox usage that better reflects taxonomic uncertainty. Stan 18:14, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes, some good points. A major obstacle is that there is very little information on Wikipedia. Mostly there is a framework on taxonomic position within APG and listings of genera. We are dealing mostly with a vacuum here. Quite a bit of the contents as-is has errors in it, and there is too little fact checking by editors.Brya 10:11, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

I removed the boilerplate about a taxonomic name having different interpretations in different systems. (This is true of all taxa so interesting of none, and anyway it's clear enough from the fact that the article lists two interpretations.) Gdr 21:19, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

Obviously, you are right in observing that the fact the circumscription of the taxon labeled with a particular botanical name will vary with taxonomic viewpoint is a universal truth. Every entry on any taxonomic name is in fact a disambiguation page. In theory at least.
In practice, there are huge differences. Some taxa, like Leguminosae are very stable. Other families may jump from being unispecific for decades, to having hundreds of species the next moment, only to dissappear the year after. This means that it is not an easy matter to say something in general on how a Wikipedia entry should be formatted.
Even Leguminosae is not unequivocally stable - it's split into 3(?) in some classification. S.R. Hinsley.
Actually Leguminosae are stable (as far as the outer boundaries are concerned). It can be split into three (four, five, etc) families but at that moment it will cease being named Leguminosae. You are confused with Fabaceae, which is highly unstable (it can be one of two different concepts, and one of those is also unstable). 13:36, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Obviously it would be useful to make a distinction between families that are accepted for the Tree-of-Life-project and those that are not. Still, that raises the discussion on how far the APG II-position as standard should be incorporated in the articles itself. (unsigned comment by Brya)
Tree-of-Life is a secondary source. (BTW Malvaceae s.l. in in Tree-of-Life.) Steven's Angiosperm Phylogeny Website ( at Missouri Botanic Garden is also a secondary source, but is a better reference for the current state of flowering plant classification. S.R. Hinsley
In this case I was referring to the Wikipedia Tree-of-Life project which is not the one you have in mind. Prof. Stevens' site is invaluable, but it has a pretty high error rate (after all it's a one-man project). 13:36, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

I quite agree that "it is not an easy matter to say something in general on how a Wikipedia entry should be formatted". The needs of the subject matter should take precedence. A very stable taxon need not say anything on the subject; a very unstable one will need to go into a lot of detail.

The goals in "adopting" a particular classification are these:

  • Avoid describing the same organisms multiple times under different names.
  • Present consistent taxoboxes.
  • Make it likely that links will go somewhere predictable.

It doesn't mean that we think a particular classification is best, and it doesn't excuse us from presenting alternative systems. Gdr 10:33, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

Some problems with the page as currently stands
1) It reads as an advocacy page for the use of Malvaceae s.s (listing great taxonomists and taxonomic databases), and is not completely sccurate in doing so. e.g. a) Bentham and Hooker's Malvaceae includes traditional Bombacaceae. b) Hutchinson's Malvaceae was not monophyletic (by excluding Hampea, Camptostemon and Papuodendron). c) other databases use APG (e.g. GenBank/EMBL/DDBJ); in the long run there is likely to be a trend towards using APG II.
2) Malvoideae and Malvaceae s.s. are not necessarily the same clade. The Malvatheca clade (Malvoideae and Bombacoideae) is not well resolved as yet, but if one were to retain the principle of monophyly one either needs a Malvoideae appreciably larger than Malvaceae s.s. (perhaps including all of Bombacoideae) or one has to introduce several additional subfamilies for some or all of the clades Ochromeae s.s., Fremontodendreaee, Matisieae, Pentaplaris, Uladendron, Radyera and Lagunaria+Howittia+/-Camptostemon.
3) Only part of Helicteroideae was included in Sterculiaceae - I've corrected this.
The division of "core Malvales" into 4 families isn't as consistent as one might think - sometimes it's been 3 (-Bombacaeae), sometimes 5 (+Byttneriaceae) - even excluding the less mainstream positions (such as Fremontiaceae, Hibiscaceae and Philippodendraceae), and the boundaries have varied over time. For example Edlin's Malvaceae excluded Hibiscus and allies (but not Pavonia and allies) and Gossypium and allies, and if my memory serves me correctly there was a classification which placed Helictereae in Malvaceae (including Bombacaceae) instead of Sterculiaceae.
The DNA data tells us that Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae and Tiliaceae are all polyphyletic, and that this can't be corrected by small changes to the circumscriptions. This means that the old classification has been overtaken by data, and needs to be replaced by a new one. There are several possibilities, but APG I/II seems to be the only one with any traction. (There's a couple of 3 family classifications due to Thorne, both with considerably expanded versions of Malvaceae.) It seems to me that while it is sensible to acknowledge the existence of earlier conceptions of Malvaceae (as people are going to continue to encounter it for some time) and particular Malvaceae sensu Cronquist, Malvaceae s.l. should be accepted as the current conception of Malvaceae.
Stewart R. Hinsley

Relatives in North America[edit]

From the picture in the main article, the Malvaceae family appears to bear a striking resemblance to the common Devil's Club of swampy areas in the more temperate or cooler climes of North America. Is there a connection?

How would a beginner be able to tell the difference between the two?

For one things, the plants are in different families (Oplopanax is in Araliaceae). This means the flowers will be very different; most Malvaceae have large flowers with prominent petals, and Araliaceae tend to have large clusters of tiny flowers with small petals. Also, I'm not sure if any Malvaceae have spines, but Oplopanax most certainly does (thus the name "devil's club"). MrDarwin 16:48, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
There are Malvaceae with spines of sorts - for example Bombax ceiba or Hibiscus aculeatus. However the similarity seems to consist of alternate palmately lobed leaves, which turn up in several families, and which are not universal in Malvaceae (see for example Tilia, Theobroma and Cola). It's Geranium that tends to fool me (and others) at a quick glance. Stewart R. Hinsley
Can the color of the seeds, in particular, be an identifying characteristic? For instance, if okra pods are allowed to ripen, do the seeds stay white like sesame or do the seeds turn black like poppy? Do the seeds fall out, or does it require a lot of force (like a strong autumn wind) to blow the pods off the stalks?
Seed colour, as far as I know, it not useful at higher taxonomic levels. The Angiosperm Phylogeny Website gives a informal diagnosis for Malvaceae - "Malvaceae are usually readily recognisable even when sterile by the combination of fibrous bark, alternate, stipulate leaves with toothed margins, ± palmate venation, and stellate to lepidote indumentum. Mucilage is common (not in Elaeocarpaceae!). The flowers and fruits are also distinguishable by a combination of characters. The flowers often have a valvate, connate calyx with a nectary at the base inside and a contorted corolla; the stamens are often numerous and variously connate and/or fasciculate. The inside wall of the fruit and/or the surface of the seed is often hairy."
I wrote a page on the identification of mallows (restricted to the older definition of Eumalvoideae) - covering the whole family was beyond my abilities - which might answer some of your questions, see - S.R. Hinsley

Neutrality disputed[edit]

I am one of the people who believes that Berton is using this article to advocate his own ideas about plant classification, particularly in this group. Berton's edits are unnecessary and detrimental to the neutrality of this article. Why list all the botanists who advocated a certain circumscription, unless it is for a detailed comparison among them, and with current classifications? Certainly as worded by Berton it smacks of an appeal to authority, as he is clearly reluctant (I would say unwilling) to accept the taxonomic ideas of modern taxonomists. (I might also point out that such taxa as "Gymnospermae" and "Dicotyledones" were almost universally recognized until recently, but modern botanists have reached a clear consensus that these are not natural or monophyletic groups. Should we list all the long-dead botanists to support current recognition of "dicots" and "gymnosperms" as formally named groups, while ignoring the abundant data uncovered since then that show that they are not natural groups?)

What's ironic is that with just a little bit of research Berton could probably find at least some modern specialists who work in the Malvales and share his point of view, and thus add some authoritative references to back it up. By instead citing IK, APNI & GCI, which are simply lists of names and are not authoritative in the classification of any group, Berton is further weakening his own point. MrDarwin 19:06, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

I've just discovered that GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network) has gone over to APG. [S.R. Hinsley]
I just checked the articles on Tiliaceae, Sterculiaceae, and Bombacaceae, and all have been similarly treated by Berton. The best that can be said of this entire group of families is that their classification is in a state of flux; many botanists who are not specialists in these groups are waiting to see what will happen to them but in the meantime are taking a conservative approach and accepting their traditional definitions, if only because it's too soon to say what the final results will be. One thing that is fairly certain is that none of these groups, if they are maintained as named taxa, will have the same circumscriptions as they did under the "classical" taxonomists Berton seems to hold in such deference (and who themselves were not generally reluctant to shake up "accepted" classifications as new data became available). MrDarwin 19:31, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

From Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view: All Wikipedia articles must be written from a neutral point of view, representing views fairly and without bias. NPOV (Neutral Point Of View) is a fundamental Wikipedia principle which states that all articles must be written from a neutral point of view, representing views fairly and without bias. All significant points of view are presented, not just the most popular one. It is not asserted that the most popular view or some sort of intermediate view among the different views is the correct one. Readers are left to form their own opinions.

To say that "Berton is using this article to advocate his own ideas about plant classification", this is a bias. I only present others viewpoints beyond the APG system of classification and the focus is on the consensus of all great taxonomists which demonstrate the importance that this had, have or will have. Moreover IK, APNI & GCI are databases (not mere lists) from renown institutions with authority on Plant Taxonomy. It would be much strange if a layman did a search in these databases, such as with the genus Abroma for example, the answer will be: Sterculiaceae and then this person do a search in Wikipedia and the answer: Malvaceae.Who is right?

Wikipedia only has to gain with several viewpoints, only has to lose with bias. Berton 22:41, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

NPOV is tempered with the caveat "significant points of view", so there is still plenty of room to exercise judgement as to what is "significant". It's most useful to readers to describe the most common current point of view first, then gradually delve into older conceptions, sort of a "History of Malvaceae" if you will. Yes, we should present different points of view, but we also don't have to describe Aristotle's system as if it were somehow equivalent to current consensus. In answer to the question about Abroma, WP should mention both Malvaceae and Sterculiaceae, pointing out which databases say what. That's what a layman like myself really wants out of a WP article; if there are competing theories, explain them both. Stan 03:46, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree 100% with Stan. Berton 13:20, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
I see nothing in Stan's statement to disagree with. It looks to me that Berton has a point, although it is limited in nature. Basically the list of taxonomists does not hurt me, but the phrase about concensus does. Dead taxonomists don't have an opinion on currently available evidence. Also hurtfull is "valid taxon". In botany names are "validly published": taxa should not be called valid, that is confusing.
Other than that, this article does not look that bad to me, wikipedia has plenty that are worse. Actually, I feel that my original edits went quite a way to offering a basis for balanced articles, but with MDF chiming in with his famed 'idiot edits' I am not going into the field of fire. Brya 13:48, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Dear colleague of editions Brya, please won't transform the eminent botanists in a simple obituary (they are dead, but your ideas not). The relevance is on the botanists' consensus and not on the isolated positions of each one.With regard to "valid taxon", my English is very bad, but it means according to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition: well grounded; just. Berton 14:24, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
TTBOMK, Thorne doesn't accept Malvaceae sensu strictu. He's produced 2 "three-family" classifications of the clade in one of which Malvaceae incorporates 6 of the 9 subfamilies of Malvaceae sensu APG, including all of Bombacaceae and parts of Tiliaceae and Sterculiaceae, and one in which it incorporates 7 of the 9 subfamilies. See
This is not fairplay. What is TTBOMK? By the way see Thorne's position at Berton 13:28, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
"TTBOMK" = "to the best of my knowledge". Berton, this abundantly illustrates the need to refer to the original literature rather than secondary sources. The webpage you link to is a professor's lecture notes; who knows how old it is, or how accurate. At least the one Mr. Hinsley linked to has Thorne himself as an author (although again, I'm not sure where that comes from, how accurate it is, or whether it has been published). Thorne's latest published system (2000, Bot. Rev. 66: 441-647) accepts a Malvaceae s.l. that includes Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae, and parts of Tiliaceae (while keeping Byttneriaceae and a considerably restricted Tiliaceae as separate families), illustrating the point I have tried to make that plant systematists--including some that you yourself seem to hold in high esteem, at least if they support your point--are more than willing to change their minds as more data become available. MrDarwin 13:56, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
I presume the document to be an informally published work by Thorne & Reveal, as it's on the Rancho Santa Anna Botanic Garden web site, and the document gives Thorne's address as at RSABG. The document contains references to work published as late as 2005, from which I deduce it is intended to supercede the 2000 paper. It may be a work in progress - I think I first saw it before 2005. [S.R. Hinsley]
Dear Berton, please, that was not what I said. I don't dispute the merit of the eminent botanists, nor are their ideas dead. However, their ideas are based on the evidence as they knew it, which was a lot more limited than the evidence as it is available to us. Together these botanists do no form a consensus, as they lived at different times and knew different things. What they do form is a tradition, and this is a very valuable thing, to be treated with respect. However, this tradition is only one the factors in a discussion of total evidence and the consequences for the taxonomy.
It is too soon to say what the eventual outcome will be for the taxonomy. It would not be the first time that the APG return from a position they once adopted. However, the APG II system was published, and it is something we have to take into account. On the evidence available to us, a Malvaceae s.l. is quite reasonable, and certainly it deserves to be explained clearly in wikipedia. The NPoV means that both Malvaceae s.l. and Malvaceae s.s. deserve to be explained on their own merits. This means that the facts supporting either deserve to be mentioned and explained as clearly as possible, with as little rhetoric as possible.
As to "valid", this can be read several ways here and therefore is to be avoided. It is a confusing choice of words. Brya 19:08, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Brya is absolutely correct. To be honest I suspect that many of the APG's family-level definitions will be refined or rejected outright in the next few years. What I really want to know is what the botanists who specialize in Malvales think about it, and what they have published on family-level circumscriptions (especially since the dawn of the molecular era). Berton has yet to cite any such specialists, preferring instead to cite taxonomists who were not particularly familiar with this group (in most cases they published no original research whatsoever on Malvales), apparently to support his POV that Malvaceae s.s. is somehow better than Malvaceae s.l. That's not his, nor Wikipedia's, decision to make, at least not in the context of this article. In the meantime we need more hard facts about what Malvaceae s.s. or Malvaceae s.l. are, with descriptions of the plants themselves, rather than more argument over the family circumscriptions in the abstract. MrDarwin 20:45, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
I am in email contact with some of the workers on Malvales, and I'm also collecting papers on the classification, etc, of Malvaceae; current work uses the APG concept of Malvaceae. See recent papers on Malvatheca and Malvadendrina (unranked clades) by David Baum and coworkers, on Malveae by Jennifer Tate and coworkers, on Hibiseae by Bernard Pfeil and coworkers. If you want confirmation feed the subfamily names into Google, and you'll find a fair degree of usage of each of them. (I've just been through them, and the number of references seems to have increased significantly over a few years ago. I've got notes, from checking my Google rankings, from 2004 (possibly earlier), which have the number of references in Google being between 18 (Brownlowioideae) and 49 (Malvoideae); now the figures are 283 and 1810.)
I should also mention that the last revision of Malvales, by Kubitzki & Bayer, uses the APG classification. [S.R. Hinsley]
It should be mentioned that Bayer is one of the proposers of Malvaceae sensu lato. Berton 13:43, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

Malvaceae sensu APG is polyphyletic???[edit]

No time to check the literature right now so I could be wrong, but I'm going to question this recent edit by Berton. MrDarwin 14:35, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

"They be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.Bible: New Testament. Matthew 15:14."

In your cited reference: "The monophyly of one traditional family, the Malvaceae, was supported in the trees resulting from these data, but the other three families, as traditionally circumscribed, are nonmonophyletic." Berton 14:42, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

Which is why they were combined with Malvaceae to form a larger group that is monophyletic. I've checked the literature and as far as I can tell, Malvaceae sensu APG may be broadly defined but it is also monophyletic. In the meantime I've attempted a rewrite that I'm sure will make nobody happy, but which I think is both factually correct and NPOV. BTW there is still no information--none!--saying just what Malvaceae s.s. or s.l. are, e.g., morphologicla descriptions. Adding such would greatly improve the article, and would helpfully complement the discussion of circumscription. MrDarwin 15:14, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
To the best of current knowledge Malvaceae sensu APG (excluding Muntingiaceae and Elaeocarpaceae)is monophyletic, i.e. the taxa placed in that family are more closely related to each other any other plants. The possibly exception is a couple of families of holoparastic plants (Cytinaceae and Apodanthacae) which probably fall in Malvales, but whose exact position is as yet unclear. My expectation is that they will fall outside of Malvaceae sensu APG; if they do fall inside Malvaceae sensu APG then it is likely that they will be lumped into it. [S.R. Hinsley]
I think to lump the families that are considered polyphyletic, as APG do, logically it will increase the polyphyly degree, and that is a nonsense. Berton 15:52, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
That turns out not to be the case. Are you under an misapprehension as to what polyphyly is? [S.R. Hinsley]
Mr. Hinsley is very persuasive and he demonstrates a specialist knowledge, but I think logically (I am not cladist): if the Family A is monophyletic (like Malvaceae sensu stricto), and B (Sterculiaceae)+ C (Tiliaceae) +D (Bombacaceae) polyphyletic then maybe it must: instead of lump them into Malvaceae sensu lato, to maintain Malvaceae sensu stricto as the great taxonomists did and to split the other families. Berton 11:56, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
You'd prefer a classification with Malvaceae, Chiranthodendraceae, Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae, Helicteraceae, Tiliaceae, Berryaceae, Donbeyaceae, Grewiaceae, Hermanniaceae and Byttneriaceae, and several other clades as yet unpublished at the rank of family? S.R. Hinsley, 00:36, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
Whether uniting some polyphyletic families will increase or decrease the amount of phylogeny is not a matter of logic. It will depend on the total tree.
I agree with MrDarwin that additional real infomation would be helpful. Also note the comment by Stewart Robert Hinsley above about the dangers of equating a family as described by one author to the family as described by another author, even when both use the same family name.
My preference would be to 1) simplify this entry and 2) to be more specific. Arguing molecular phylogenies is dangerous as DNA data from one spot is not the same as that from another spot (the famous cpDNA genes have a pretty good track record, but other genes are still unknown as to performance). It is all too easy to fall into the trap of comparing apples and oranges. In other words: less logic, less rhetoric, more facts, please! Brya 18:48, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Brya makes an excellent point: is Malvaceae (or Bombacaceae, or Tiliaceae, or Sterculiaceae) sensu "great taxonomist A" the same as Malvaceae (or Bombacaceae etc.) sensu "great botanist B"? It would be interesting to go back and check. In the meantime I'd like to quote Cronquist (1981), one of the "great taxonomists" cited by Berton (even though Cronquist's own area of expertise was not the Malvales, and he got much wrong in other groups), who foreshadowed some of the current controversy:
"Most authors have agreed that all of the families here referred to the Malvales are allied. The Elaeocarpaceae stand somewhat apart from the rest of the order, but even so the relationship is so close that they have often been included in the Tiliaceae. The remaining four families (Tiliaceae, Sterculiaceae, Bombacaceae, and Malvaceae) are even more closely allied, and there has been some controvery about their definition. Individual genera have been shifted from one family to another by various authors. The whole tribe Hibisceae is referrable to the Bombacaceae if the structure of the fruit is taken as the critical character, and to the Malvaceae if (as here) the ornamentation of the pollen is stressed instead."
Cronquist goes on to further discuss disputes over circumscriptions within each family, while qualifying each family with "as here defined". In other words, everything old is new again. The controversy over the circumscriptions of these families is nothing new and the "great taxonomists" are not nearly as monolithic as Berton seems to think. MrDarwin 19:33, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
I never said that the great taxonomists had only one opinion on Malvales, which I always pointed out it was almost the unanimity that they had in separating the families Malvaceae, Tiliaceae, Sterculiaceae and Bombacaceae. Actually there is almost unanimity that these families are very close, mainly Bombacaceae of Malvaceae. Berton 12:38, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
See my draft on the history of classification - - S.R. Hinsley, 00:36, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

"not monophyletic with respect to Malvaceae" is inaccurate[edit]

If you pretend that Malvaceae sensu Cronquist doesn't exist all three of the other families remain polyphyletic. Bombacaceae contains two clades - Durioneae and the remainder of the family (the remainder of the family is also paraphyletic with respect to Malvaceae sensu Cronquist). Sterculiaceae contains at least three clades (Byttnerioideae, Fremontodendreae, and the remainder of Sterculiaceae). Tiliaceae contains at least two clades (Grewioideae and the remainder of Tiliaceae). (The relationships between the clades making up Malvadendrina is unclear, and it could be as many as 5 clades in Sterculiaceae and 3 in Tiliaceae.) [S.R. Hinsley]

You are quite correct, and that was an error on my part. What I think is important to stress is that Malvaceae s.s. are a monophyletic group; the problems arise in circumscribing the other families, and to make any of them monophyletic would probably require extremely narrow circumscriptions, none of which would be very similar in composition to these families in their traditional senses, along with the creation of numerous new families. This same scenario and same controversy are being played out in many groups all across systematic botany, and are being resolved in different ways by different groups of systematists. MrDarwin 01:44, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
There are problems with the monophyly of Malvaceae s.s. as well, but on a smaller scale - by the DNA evidence, the genera Camptostemon (ex Bombacaceae:Durioneae), Pentaplaris (ex Tiliaceae) and Uladendron (ex Sterculiaceae) belong to a basal grade together with Lagunaria, Howittia and Radyera w.r.t. the bulk of Malvaceae s.s., and how these genera are related is unclear (Pentaplaris seems to be sister to everything else, and Camptostemon perhaps to go with the Lagunaria+Howittia clade). Papuodendron (ex Bombacaceae:Durioneae) falls into Hibisceae (it's basically a 'giant hibiscus', fairly closely related to Hibiscus tiliaceus (Talipariti tiliaceum)). Malvaceae s.s., with some adjustment to content, is monophyletic - it may be a matter of semantics as to whether that leaves Malvaceae s.s. monophyletic or not.
BTW, Malvoideae sensu Kubitzki and Bayer roughly matches Malvaceae s.s., but Malvoideae sensu Baum et al also includes Matisieae (3 genera, 60+ species) ex Bombacaceae. [S.R. Hinsley]


After all which the Thorne's position? Berton 13:18, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

In lieu of any other references, I think we have to assume that Thorne's most recently published classification (2000) reflects his current opinion. MrDarwin 14:35, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

About non NPOV behaviors in articles on Plant Taxonomy[edit]

I list the following procedures that are flagrant violations of the NPOV norm:

  • to delete informations assigned by one "part" with pretext to get better the article.
  • to use and abuse of the redirect pages to taxa.
  • to adopt a classification system as "official", like APG, using elements to standard this, like taxobox, intimidating other editors.

I think that all discussion above (of very high level) proves that much better to have many viewpoints (among this: classifications, yes plural!) presents and eliminates bias! Berton 14:01, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

Berton, there have been several very specific requests or suggestions for improving this article, and none have been addressed. Among them have been to include recent references and data from researchers whose specialty is Malvaceae and related families, and also to include more factual, descriptive information like descriptions of the plants themselves. This information would be very useful but has been neglected in favor of arguing over classification schemes. On what bases are the various families separated or combined? The user will be mystified. Some additional points:
1. The only thing I have outright deleted was a list of systematists that was unnecessary and gave a strong impression that the article was advocating a particular POV regarding the classification of Malvaceae. (And I am not the only editor to object to this.) On the contrary, I have tried to add information, including more information about different classifications (like those of Thorne and Edlin).
2. I am not an advocate of the APG classification system, and I have always tried to make it clear that I am not in favor of Wikipedia adopting it. Nor am I an advocate of the Cronquist system (which is fundamentally flawed in many respects). Rather than listen to systematists who want to rearrange all the angiosperms at once but may or may not have expertise in any particular group, I would rather hear from systematists who study a particular group when it comes to the classification of that particular group. I have always tried to balance the APG classification against that of Cronquist or another systematist, and vice-versa. Wikipedia should not be in the position of saying that one is better than the other, and my objection to this article--and judging from the comments of several other editors I'm not alone--has been that the article is trying to advocate a particular classification scheme that has been increasingly challenged and may or may not be retained in the future.
3. Regarding the taxoboxes, I understand Brya's point about their inflexibility. I don't object to them but I do think it should be made clear in all cases where they are used that they are going by a particular classification scheme.
To quote Wikipedia, "And, of course, others here will boldly and mercilessly edit what you write. Don't take it personally. They, like all of us, just want to make Wikipedia as good as it can possibly be."
If you disagree with me on any of these points, I would welcome arbitration. MrDarwin 14:35, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

About APG II in Wikipedia[edit]

Some points:
  • any taxonomic system, any taxonomic position, and for that matter any circumscription is a point of view, but (hopefully) a rigorously scientific point of view. This is inevitable, and should be accepted cheerfully, provided it is clear whose scientific point of view is presented. Vagueness and sweeping statements are to be avoided.
  • Therefor it is convenient to have a standard system to refer to, as the default. If any system is to be adopted as the standard, it is obvious that (at this moment) this should be APG II.
  • actually there are three different areas in wikipedia involved here: 1) taxoboxes, 2) categories and 3) articles. Of these the articles allow most flexibility, as any one article can be adjusted to deal with the specific requirements of that particular topic. Taxoboxes are inflexible and can only use one classification at a time (at the moment an incomprehensible mixture of APG II and Cronquist). Categories are in between. Should a category like "plant families" contain everything ever published in the rank of family? Or should it list only families accepted (or allowed) under APG II? Something similar goes for a category that is named for an order: should this contain everything anybody has ever assigned to this order? Or only what is now accepted under APG II? Note that this is not quite the same question as for "plant families".
  • I think among what would be needed is to have more articles that deal in detail with the subject matter (in the case of Malvaceae, it would be good to have articles for each of the new subfamilies). Also it would be good to be more careful: I have a poor opinion of those lists of included taxa (a list of genera included in a family may look nice, but quite often it is unclear in how far these genera are accepted)
  • as to deleting parts of entries. I don't think it is possible to say something in general about this. Although it is undesirable to remove content from wikipedia, there are lots of users who enter what happens to occur to them or what they happen to find in the book they have at hand, or find on a website. There is a lot of junk in wikipedia and cleanup is necessary. Actually cleanup (if done properly) is harder than writing an article, as it should consider what is worth keeping (possibly in another form or at another place) and what may safely be deleted. This requires peace of mind, as well as expertise. Brya 12:27, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

Berton's latest edits[edit]

(sigh) I see that Berton has again reverted parts of the article, re-inserting his POV and re-introducing several outright errors that have already been corrected. I despair of this article ever being improved as long as Berton is involved. I think it's time to call in the arbitrators. MrDarwin 14:44, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

Why your POV shall prevail? Berton 14:56, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
And what is my POV? That different classifications should be presented without showing preference for one over another? That it's better to improve an article than to continue to revert to a version with incomplete and erroneous information? (I see you have done the same under Bombacaceae and Sterculiaceae). Berton, if you have no objection, I am going to formally request mediation. MrDarwin 15:18, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
No objections. Berton 15:20, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
You and others have deleted systematically my editions, and I didn't call the arbitrators, but I think arrived the hour. Berton 15:31, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
As it stands the page contains spurious arguments in advocacy of a particular position. They ought to be removed. It has already been pointed out that the opinions of earlier botanists don't trump that of the current botanical community - the scientific community always reserves the right to have a better idea.
Regardless of the merits of the many varied concepts of Malvaceae (Malvaceae s.s. vs Malvaceae s.l. is an oversimplification) and the other families in the group (which have been considerably less stable historically) readers are going to continue for some time to encounter both older and newer conceptions of the family, and given the significant differences between Malvaceae sensu APG and earlier concepts it would be desirable that Wikipedia makes mention of this. Arguably WikiPedia should be reporting on the contents of the various concepts, not advocating one in particular. But the motivation for the major recircumscription by APG should be explained.
I'd suggest removing all the bits about botanists (including Edlin and Thorne) and databases, unless we'all are ready to write a historical sketch of Malvaceae classification. (BTW, I guess to I ought to put that on the TO DO list for [S.R. Hinsley] 00:31, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
Will it be that the concept of Malvaceae sensu lato is so fragile that a list of eminent botanists may threaten it? Berton 02:19, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
No, but the concept of Malvaceae s.l. is new enough that a list of eminent botanists--most of whom are dead, and many of whom published well over 100 years ago--is both unnecessary and gives a strong impression to the uninformed user that old and incomplete data are better than new and more complete data. MrDarwin 02:40, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
Arguments not worthy of counter-argumentations:most of whom are dead, and many of whom published well over 100 years ago. Berton 14:38, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
His point is valid. Dead botanists are not in a position to express an opinion on what would be the appropriate classification in the light of current knowledge. Your list originally included Thorne (who's still living); he has changed his position in the light of new evidence, and one might expect that the same would hold for the others if they were still living. Botanists who published 100 years ago had much less evidence at their disposal. Citing their views as evidence against a modern position is analogous to citing Newton's views as evidence against Special Relativity. [S.R. Hinsley]
The data while were morphological almost allowed an unanimity of taxonomists (with the important exception of Bentham & Hooker): the homogeneity of the taxon Malvaceae sensu stricto that was confirmed cladistically later (as monophyletic). What happened with Thorne, but I am not sure, it was that he must have considered other data, such as molecular and then he changed his opinion. Berton 17:05, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
Other exceptions are Edlin (already mentioned), Jussieu, Adanson, Kuntze, Medik and (one of several) Smith(s).
But as already mentioned it's not Malvaceae s.s. that's the problem; even though some versions (e.g. Hutchinson's) aren't monophyletic, it can easily be modified to be so. The problem is with Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae and Tiliaceae. In these cases they can't easily be modified to be monophyletic, not was there the same unanimity over their boundaries in historical classifications. [S.R. Hinsley] 19:47, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
Then the discussion is enclosed, because my main purpose was to defend Malvaceae s. s. and not to attack Malvaceae s. l. Thank you for the privilege of the debate.Berton 20:38, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
You (Berton) seem to think that it is, since you present the list as a argument against Malvaceae sensu APG. There's two problems. Firstly, you're breaching the NPOV guidelines. Secondly, the argument is fallacious.
BTW, I've glanced at the Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae and Tiliaceae articles. MrDarwin's last version of Bombacaceae seems pretty good, but I think that the Thorne classification is not correctly presented on the Sterculiaceae page. (I couldn't find the original to check, and a secondary source - Shipunov - isn't completely clear about what Thorne wrote.) [S.R. Hinsley] 11:26, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
Mr. Hinsley, I repeat: you are very persuasive and demonstrate a specialist knowledge: but my arguments against Malvaceae sensu lato are 2 (not the list, that I agree in that is transformed in a section as " History of Malvaceae"):
Is this an agreement on your part that we can remove the lists? (It has come to my mind that the best place to present a history of the classification of these groups would be an article on suborder Malvinae. The circumscription of this has been more stable, but note the inclusion or exclusion of Elaeocarpaceae and Prockieae/Banareae.)
Yes, I agree. But Malvinae sensu who?
  • consensus of the taxonomists on the basis in morphological and palynological fields
Other data (DNA sequence, chromsomal, ultrastructural, developmental, biochemical, biogeographical, ...) is now available and should be taken into account in classification.
According to the palynological information in Kubitzki and Bayer, the palynological data generally supports the APG classification - Byttnerioideae (ex Sterculiaceae) and Grewioideae (ex Tiliaceae), ignoring deriving types within those groups, share a pollen type, Malva-type pollen is found in Malvoideae, Bombacoideae and Domebeyoideae (ex Sterculiaceae or Byttneriaceae). Kleinhovia is the main anomaly - the DNA sequence data place it in Byttnerioideae, but its pollen matches Helicteroideae.
As explained above, a historical consensus is not a valid argument for a classification in the face of modern data. For an example from another field, until the 1960s there was a consensus for fixist palaeogeographic models; that shouldn't and didn't prevent their replacement with mobilist palaeogeographic models when new data became avalable.
  • stability of the taxonomy
That the classification accurately reflects relationships overrides considerationa of stability. I'm not fanatical about holophyly, but I can't see the degree of polyphyly present in the older classification commanding widespread toleration. To retain Malvaceae sensu strictu, while following the principle of monophyly, requires about 13 families in place of the original 4.
This is not n NPOV. Berton 11:43, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
Arguing for a classification seems to be a non-NPOV.
Mr. Hinsley, first point: "arguing for a classification seems to be a non-NPOV":Wikipedia has to contain all the important information on the theme, in the case Malvaceae, all the classifications that were and they are accepted until the present. Then, if a lay one runs over Wikipedia looking for information on Malvaceae, it doesn't matter who wrote them, however this information has to be verifiable and not mere opinion. If, as in the case of Malvaceae there is 2 concepts that have current acceptance: Malvaceae sensu lato and Malvaceae sensu stricto, is natural that there is arguments pros and cons the two concepts, because this reflects the reality and is neutral. Berton 15:57, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
NPOV would be to report the classifications, and perhaps the reasons for them. (Historical consensus and taxonomic stability are not sufficiently valid reasons.) [S.R. Hinsley] 13:40, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
Second point: Only report the classifications I believe that would not be enough. And it is not that which is happening in Wikipedia, it is enough to read the header of the article. With regard to "Historical consensus and taxonomic stability are not sufficiently valid reasons." the reader according to the norms of the n-NPOV will decide. From Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view: Readers are left to form their own opinions. Berton 15:57, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

MrDarwin's latest edits[edit]

The carpologic characters are not phylogenetic criteria accepted to define families in Malvales, they are only used to define tribes in Malvaceae. It is natural that there is variability (as with fruits) in a family as large as Malvaceae. Moreover Kubitzki says in Kubitzki, K.(Editor)(1993): The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants, Vol.2, Preface: "Angiosperm taxa above the rank of family are little consolidated...Genera and families, in contrast, are comparatively stable units - and they are important in practical terms...The family, is, as a rule, homogeneous enough to conveniently summarize biological information, yet comprehensive enough to avoid excessive redundance." Berton 19:13, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

And once again, Berton is rewriting to impose a POV. MrDarwin 19:37, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
Because once again you deleted my editions, the patience is reaching the end...! Berton 00:43, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Berton, do please tell me exactly what I deleted. I contributed quite a bit of new information to this article, and slightly reworded some sections. Rather than contribute new information yourself, you rewrote my new neutrally-worded text to reflect your own POV. Several Wikipedia editors besides myself have noted your insertion of a POV into this article, yet you keep complaining about my actions without substantiating just what it is you seem to think I'm doing. I find it very telling that not one other editor has complained about my edits to this article, and not one other editor has come to the defense of yours. Meanwhile I keep going to the original literature to provide facts, and you keep complaining about... what, I'm still not entirely sure. You comment on my own POV but you haven't said what you think my POV is. (I'm also rather confused about your comments here about carpological characters--I said nothing about their significance in defining families in Malvales, although the two very different ovary and fruit types in Malvaceae show your continuing claims about the homogeneity of this group to be quite specious.)
This article is not your personal property, and I'm losing my own patience when you continue to treat it as such. MrDarwin 01:58, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
MrDarwin, I am much admired that you to ask me what you deleted!I have been having a posture extremely ethic in Wikipedia, is evident that I have my opinions, some, I recognize, rather controversial, but I never delete information that other editors place in the articles, that I do for respect to the extraneous opinions, it is enough to give a glance in the talk pages of APG, Cladistics, same disagreeing, I never altered these articles!Also in Malvaceae, I have been trying to have a posture the more possible ethic: I usually limit to defend the point of view of Malvaceae s.s. and I am not attacking Malvaceae s. l. (with deletions); I also had the initiative of to maintain a dialogue and to do an agreement to avoid the arbitration, agreement that you broke.On the contrary your posture has been anti-ethic, you have deleted systematically my editions, without any previous discussion, besides to change arguments pro Malvaceae s. s. minimizing their importance and to point out to maximum your favorable point of view to Malvaceae s.l. Berton 14:33, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Berton, need I remind you that the role of a Wikipedia editor is not to "defend" any particular point of view, which you openly admit to doing? All of my edits have been to improve the NPOV of the article. You seem to think that I have a POV in favor of Malvaceae s.l. but I do not; in fact I have no personal opinion on the matter (this group is not my area of expertise) but I have tried to present the various viewpoints on the classification of this group, and there are several. And once again I must ask: what did I delete? Please tell me, for all the world to see, rather than making the claim over and over again. You, on the other hand, entirely reverted two articles (Sterculiaceae and Bombacaceae) that I had spent much time editing, in the process deleting much new information I had added. So please do not accuse me of deleting information, or of inserting a POV, without backing up your accusations. MrDarwin 15:42, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Try "fruit" characters, rather than "carpologic" (BTW, the English would be "carpological"). Anyway, the relationship of fruit characters to tribes isn't that clear cut. Most genera of Malveae have schizocarpous fruits, but Bastardia and Bastardiopsis have capsular fruits, and Plagianthus has single seeded fruits which are plausibly homologous to a single mericarp of the fruits of other genera. Most of the "Malvaviscaceae" in Hibisceae have schizocarpous fruits (they can generally be distinguished from Malveae by the ratio of style branches to carpels, but see Plagianthus and allies), and apparently represent two distinct clades. Malvaviscus has fleshy fruits. Some Gossypieae have indehiscent fruits. If you're looking for a single character to distinguish Gossypieae (excluding Alyogyne) then it would probably be the presence of gossypol containing glands.
With clades of any size it's difficult to give a single character to distinguish between clades; a character may be an apomorphy of a clade, but often it's replaced in subclades by their own apomorphies.
The stability of genera is only comparatively so if that. I suspect that in the next ten years families will become more stable, and genera less so, as botanists start investigating genera using molecular techniques. Several plant genera are already known to be massively paraphyletic. Hibiscus is one of these. Sida is polyphyletic. Problems with other genera (e.g. Malva/Lavatera/Althaea) are also known about. I know of another case where a species may not only be in the wrong genus, but also in the wrong tribe. S.R. Hinsley, 02:06, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Precisely: molecular phylogenies are forcing plant systematists to re-examine our assumptions about relationships and the classifications based on those assumptions, and many of the assumptions of the "classical" systematists are proving to be wrong. In my own area of specialty I have also come across a species that was misplaced to genus. It had never been placed in any other genus, yet our molecular results placed it not only far outside the genus but even the tribe in which it had been placed. Yet this made perfect sense when we looked closely at its morphology, as it turned out to have a rhizome structure unlike anything in the tribe in which it had been placed, in fact unlike anything in that entire subfamily, and so my co-authors and I created a new tribe to accommodate it. Such discoveries are not at all disturbing to a good plant systematist--quite the opposite, they are exciting and invigorating, as they demonstrate that we don't already know everything, and that there are still new things to discover. MrDarwin 02:24, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
I had thought that, as of the end of February, that we were approaching a consensus, but it appears that I was mistaken. It's as well I didn't try a rewrite on the basis of that misapprehension. What is the status of the request for moderation? 03:34, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
I did look into moderation but was a little confused by the process. Ultimately I became involved in other things and did not pursue it. If things continue to deteriorate, I will look into it again. I am frustrated with the ongoing pattern where I add new information to it, and Berton rewrites my additions to reflect his POV. I would certainly encourage you to add information to the article, and rewrite any parts of it you feel need to be rewritten. This article could certainly use some new blood. MrDarwin 14:09, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Trouble is, if I removed the list of authorities (or references to databases, herbaries, floras) Berton would complain. If I added a list of authorities who recognised Malvaceae in other than the "traditional" circumscription I wouldn't be improving the page. (I've made a start on a sketch of the history of classification - see
Well, FWIW, I will repeat that I feel that the use of the word "consensus" is quite unfortunate. Also I will note that arguing about what rank to assign to a group is highly arbitrary. There is no close agreement on what characters a family or genus must possess, or when a group must be assigned a certain rank. This will vary from person to person, from taxonomic viewpoint to taxonomic viewpoint, etc. Groups must be distinct and recognisable; rank is a matter of a pragmatic choice. On the whole I am with S.R. Hinsley and MrDarwin. Berton has a point, but it should be kept in its place, as one PoV among others.
On another note, the use of "family" is not really redundant here. Firstly, and most importantly, the putative target audience is the general public, and many won't know how to read an termination in a botanical name to determine the rank: they will find the mention of the rank a convenience. Especially with botanical names clustering so thickly. Secondly, terminations in botanical names may well be inconclusive: it is the assignation to rank that determines the actual rank, and the termination will follow. The other day I compiled the de Candolle and Bentham & Hooker systems (I did not get round to uploading them yet) and in these systems real Latin terminations were used (rather than today's standardised ones): there a termination of -aceae may well be used in a rank different than family. So, here, in a general encyclopedia, the "word" family is not redundant. Of course it would be different if this were a flora or the like. Brya 10:55, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
I argue that the use of the word family in the mapping between the Kubitzki & Bayer subfamilies and the traditional families is redundant, because the traditional families are described as families in preceding paragraphs. S.R. Hinsley, 18:33, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
I do see what you mean and in an ideal world this would be convincing. However, in the real world people are sloppy readers; this may be because they are in a hurry, or want to make a quick check of facts. Over time I have gathered quite a bit of experience in how people can misread things. Somebody may want to make a quick check and skip the intro, and then get confused by the mention of subfamilies and families in the same line. The addition of the word "family" results in a significant reduction in the chance of somebody misreading this. Brya 20:27, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Brya, thank you for your comments and support. BTW Brya makes an excellent point: the issue is not whether these groups of plants are related, nor even how they are related; the issue is how to draw lines around them and label them "families". Ultimately, all higher-level classification is artificial and subjective, and has never been as stable as Berton seems to think. For example he continues to include Bentham & Hooker in his list, even though their classification explicitly undermines his claims; meanwhile he has not yet produced a single citation of a systematist who is or was an actual authority on Malvaceae or Malvales, perhaps because the systematists who have actually studied the groups in question, like Edlin, have often rejected the "traditional" classifications. This is one reason why I have tried to add information about varying circumscriptions, the authors who have accepted various circumscriptions, and the characters upon which those circumscriptions are based. MrDarwin 14:09, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Brya, you are not neutral to opine, I have been seeing that you have been placing successively the statement: " Wikipedia has adopted APG II " in several articles. Berton 12:40, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
A most bizarre non sequitur if I have ever seen one, and with it a breathtaking dismissal of some rather substantive comments by Brya. MrDarwin 14:09, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Actually, I am doing my best to be neutral. This is helped by the fact that I feel rank is a rather arbitrary phenomenon. In the old days we had an order Malvales which was a clear unit of four families (plus whatever was fashionable to attach to these four) and now we have a family Malvaceae that includes these four families. It remains one unit with lots of clear characters. So it changes rank. I can live with that; there are lots worse changes.
The fact that wikipedia has adopted APG (or claims to have done so) is something I had no hand in (BTW not only the English WP but as many satelites in other languages as I have seen). This is an objective fact. I do have a problem with this, but as I see it, the big problem is not that there is a 'standard system' but that most people are trying to use APG II and Cronquist at the same time, without noticing the difference. I would guess that more than 99% of the users is not able to think clearly in either Cronquist or APG II, as a frame of reference. The average user would be a lot happier to have just one classification system, and preferably one that had been stable for the past century.
In the delimitation of groups it is important what is related to what, but it is not the only thing that is important. We don't really know what is related to what and how. All we can do is go by best evidence and then decide to name recognisable groups, while in the process we minimise nomenclatural upset.
So, again, I think that the tradition in naming these groups is important, but a) it is not the only important factor and b) there is no really close agreement between the people who formed this tradition. Therefore, I do think, Berton, you should make your case by putting in as much facts as possible, with as little retoric as possible and treating the tradition of all these venerable botanists as only one of the aspects of the matter (instead of as a deciding one). Also choice of wording does matter.
All in all, it sounds like quite a good idea to entrust the entire matter to S.R. Hinsley and abiding by whatever summary he could come up with. Brya 20:27, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure that I want to step into the firing line. Malvaceae s.s. is widely used, and should be presented. But Berton appears to want a case for Malvaceae s.s. to be presented. (I wish I understood why.) Either the Core Malvoideae (Malvoideae less Matisieae) or Eumalvoideae (Hibisceae, Gossypieae, Alyogyne, Malveae) of Baum et al appear to be good clades, and could be equated with Malvaceae s.s. However, as far as I know, no classification, consistent with current knowledge, and incorporating Malvaceae s.s., has been published. Retaining Malvaceae s.s. implies fairly drastic splitting of Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae and Tiliaceae. It also is liable to lead to taxonomic instability at the family level, as the relationships between some groups are still not completely understood.
BTW, the Baum et al paper has ended up being listed twice - under References and External Links. S.R. Hinsley, 23:58, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
As to why Berton wants to make a case for Malvaceae s.s. I feel this is not all that strange. There is a widespread tradition of going by established authority, rather than by a direct personal scientific evaluation of data. This has its good points and its bad points. Personally I am accepting your authority in faithfully representing all the detail involved here. Of course, if I felt strongly about the matter I probably would make the attempt to dig out the literature. Anyway, as I see it Berton's way of thinking is not an isolated case: very many people will think alike. This is why I feel it is a matter of finding a way of phrasing this so as to represent both points of view. Unfortunately, it appears we are making no progress in finding acceptable wording. Brya 09:46, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
That's one hypothesis. But I'm not sure it's borne out by observation. He seems to be quite happy with the new-fangled monocot classifications, and on this discussion page has advocating abandoning Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae and Tiliaceae. He could be a splitter, which would explain his antipathy to APG, who are generally lumpers. S.R. Hinsley, 10:45, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
Who knows? I am going by the simplest possible explanation. As to monocot classification, this is such a mess that it would be dangerous to draw conclusions about any position by anybody. Brya 10:59, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

Malvaceae s.s. vs. Malvaceae s.l. and APG vs. "traditional" classifications[edit]

Berton apparently has the mistaken belief that I and other editors are arguing in favor of the APG classification of Malvaceae s.l. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I have tried to do is show that many botanists, both before and since the APG classifications, have challenged the "traditional" circumscription of Malvaceae, and also that many botanists who specialize in the Malvales have accepted Malvaceae s.l. I have no stake in this argument; I am not APG's biggest fan, nor am I a Malvales specialist (although I do have some knowledge of systematic botany and the taxonomic literature). I have no idea what consensus will emerge, or whether Malvaceae s.s. or Malvaceae s.l. or something in between is a better classification (although from what I've read, it seems pretty clear that Malvaceae will be expanded to include at least Bombacaceae). And even if I did have an opinion, it would be irrelevant to this article, which should be about facts, not opinions. My concern with this article is that Berton has, over and over, inserted a non-neutral POV in favor of Malvaceae s.s. and against Malvaceae s.l. (or anything in between), and particularly against the APG classification. He insists on wording the article in such a way to strongly imply that Malvaceae s.s. is the better system, and uses a list of taxonomists, all of whom are dead, none of whom were specialists in Malvales as far as I can tell, and many of whom published over a century ago--to support a "consensus" that never really existed and would be irrelevant in the face of new data anyway. (Enough "traditional" classifications have been proven to be flat-out wrong that I give little credence to tradition when it comes to classification.) Since he insists on retaining his sacred list of deceased botanists, my only alternative has been to provide a list of my own to show that this classification has often been challenged, and is being explicitly rejected by many of the Malvales specialists themselves (and who are not necessarily members of APG). If I appear to be arguing in favor of Malvaceae s.l., it is only because I am trying to balance Berton's advocacy of Malvaceae s.s., and he will not allow anybody to edit those sections of the article. Moreover, if I do ever come to the opinion that Malvaceae s.l. is better than Malvaceae s.s., it will be because the Malvales specialists have accepted it, not because the APG says so. MrDarwin 14:28, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

I have added the dates for the various classifications systems that supported the "traditional" Malvaceae. If Berton insists on retaining this list, I am going to insist on retaining the dates to give readers of the article some historical perspective. Ideally, the date given should be the date of the volume in which the treatment of Malvaceae appears but I don't have that information at hand right now. MrDarwin 14:54, 11 March 2006 (UTC)


On February me and Mr. Hinsley achieved to a consent (you were absent of the discussion). I understand his (Mr. Hinsley's) position perfectly: he makes a great work to divulge the best available knowledge on Malvaceae (with excellent site on that), and he doesn't have sectarian position on the theme. As for me, my largest concern is as the stability of Taxonomy, I resolutely don't like radical changes, without justifications; but I am not intransigent, if I see that the best for Taxonomy is that families of Order Malvales should be gathered, in Malvaceae s. l., then I will accept willingly.

On the contrary, with regard to you (MrDarwin): you insist on distorting everything and just look to want to polemize.

Some explanations: Malvaceae s.s. or s.l. are POV. Malvaceae s.s., obviously, it is not non NPOV. The arguments that I mentioned in the article pro Malvaceae s.s. they are not non NPOV, because they are based fully (they are verifiable facts), and not mere opinion:

  • a) list of eminent botanists that accepted Malvaceae s. s.
  • b) historical consensus among these, with base on the morphologic data
  • c) homogeneity of the family, confirmed cladistically
  • d) wide diffusion of the acceptance of this circumscription: databases, herbaria, identification keys, etc

Moreover: I didn't write that Malvaceae s.s. was better. If you deduced that since then my arguments, so I did very well. Yes, I reverence very much the great taxonomists (died, like Jesus Christ, but alive in your great ideals), even I have learned languages (Latin, among them) to look for the knowledge that they transmitted, and that you, irreverently, look to despise. These " compilers ", like you say, they were not alone, they counted with an army of great specialist collaborators or they were supported directly (they compiled) in your works. Finally, in more a maneuver to minimize my arguments, you place dates, but everything well, go ahead... Berton 10:37, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure that we have a common conception of a consensus, in the light of subsequent edits on your part, but I'll go ahead and rewrite the article and see what people think. —Preceding unsigned comment added by User: (talkcontribs)
Mr. Hinsley I should remind you that this is not a new Nupedia. Berton 12:33, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
I changed the scope of my web site to Malvaceae sensu APG about 5 years back, and taxonomic stability was one of reasons. In the light of current knowledge greater taxonomic stability in the form of the retention of Malvaceae s.s. is more that offset by greater taxonomic stability elsewhere. There's several places where APG can be criticised for lumping (short of checking the literature in detail, Caryophyllales and Ericales come to mind, but this is in part be a result of the lack of formal supraordinal taxa) but Malvaceae s.l. is not, in my opinion, one of them. It is unfortunate that a well-defined group like Malvaceae s.s. is lost, but the impact elsewhere of retaining it outweighs this, especially because of the paraphyletic nature of Bombacaceae (even after Durioneae is excluded). SRH.
There is the cases of: Asclepiadaceae into Apocynaceae, Chenopodiaceae into Amaranthaceae, extinction of Flacourtiaceae, Scrophulariaceae, and so on (the future will say)... Berton 12:19, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
You may have falling into the trap of personalising the issue - of judging material by who wrote it, rather than by the content. (You might not be the only one to have done so.) I may well be further from your position that MrDarwin is. (For example, I think that there are good pragmatic reasons for WikiPedia to standardise on APG. But there are also good pragmatic reasons to incorporate entries for all the Cronquist families, orders, subclasses and classes.) SRH
I think that APG's classification is fad, it won't resist at the time, after a great revaluation of the genetic research and of the erroneous cladistic method and therefore it will be not officially adopted by Wikipedia. Berton 12:44, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
The reason that your material is nNPOV is that you are selective in your presentation of facts. It includes authors that recognised Malvaceae s.s., but not those that didn't. It includes evidence for the monophyly of Malvaceae s.s., but not the evidence for the polyphyly of the other families. SRH
I would like to support the above statement fully:
"(For example, I think that there are good pragmatic reasons for WikiPedia to standardise on APG. But there are also good pragmatic reasons to incorporate entries for all the Cronquist families, orders, subclasses and classes.) SRH".
To some extent I also agree with Berton's statement that APG will pass, but only as far as any taxonomic system (based on best evidence as known at that time) is ephemeral. Whatever the future may think of APG and however long it may last, the fact is APG is here now, and all the Wikipedia's have adopted it de facto. This makes it the basic frame of reference (even if only to present the evidence of where it is likely to be wrong, or where it has been superseeded). Brya 18:29, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

Proposed "NPOV" text[edit]

Malvaceae is family of flowering plants containing Malva, the mallow genus, and its relatives. In common with many other plant families different botanists (sometimes the same botanists) have over the years taken different views as to which plants should have be included in the family. However, unlike the situation with many plant families, there are two different clusters of concepts which might be encountered by the contemporary reader - the traditional Malvaceae or Malvaceae sensu strictu, of which Malvaceae sensu Cronquist may be taken as an examplar, and the newer Malvaceae sensu lato, of which Malvaceae sensu APG may be taken as an examplar.

Malvaceae s.s. is a well defined group which historically has been nearly universally recognised as a family or part of a larger family. Nearly all 20th century works recognised it as a family. It is characterised by a combination of echinate pollen, stamen filaments fused to form a column closely enclosing the style, and unilocular, bisporangiate, anthers. It includes about 75 genera, totalling about 1,500 species, including the mallows, cotton plants, okra, hibiscus, and hollyhocks.

However the closely related families Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae and Tiliaceae, which together with Malvaceae s.s. form the core of Malvales of the Cronquist system were not so clearly defined, and recent studies of DNA sequences, from several loci, have found that all three of these families are polyphyletic, and furthermore Bombacaceae is paraphyletic with respect to Malvaceae s.s.. The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group's proposed resolution of this taxonomic problem is to incorporate the four families into a single, extended, Malvaceae which includes about 250 genera. The additonal genera include lindens, kapok, baobabs, balsa, etc.

Malvaceae sensu APG is divided (Bayer et al. 1999, Bayer & Kubitzki 2003) into 9 subfamilies.

  • The plants in Malvaceae s.s form the core of subfamily Malvoideae.
  • The plants in Bombacaceae are distributed between subfamilies Malvoideae, Bombacoideae and Helicteroideae (the genus Maxwellia is transferred to Byttnerioideae).
  • The plants in Sterculiaceae are divided between the subfamilies Sterculioideae, Helicteroideae, Dombeyoideae and Byttnerioideae.
  • The plants in Tiliacae are divided between the subfamilies Brownlowioideae, Tilioideae and Grewioideae.

Much recent literature uses Malvaceae sensu APG, but many botanical databases, flora, identification keys and herbaria continue to use Malvaceae s.s. Intermediate circumscriptions have been proposed, and it is possible that in the future a consensus will settle on one of these, rather than on Malvaceae s.s or Malvaceae sensu APG.

S.R. Hinsley, 13:37, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for making the effort. On a first reading I would be okay with this. It appears that this is not markedly superior to what MrDarwin wrote, or for that matter to what I wrote, but everybody has his own style of writing, and there is not much point in arguing about style. The two main points that are noticeable is that this draft sketches matters in broad outlines, a strategy which in my mind suggests that elsewhere additional material is available presenting matters in more detail. Or in other words to the average reader this is a little vague (if it remains limited to this). The second point is that I don't like the layout of the text dealing with the subdivision, and I feel that it would be more reader friendly to adopt a layout like:
  • The plants in (the former) Malvaceae s.s form the core of subfamily Malvoideae.
  • The plants in (the former) Bombacaceae are distributed between subfamilies Malvoideae, Bombacoideae and Helicteroideae (the genus Maxwellia is transferred to Byttnerioideae).
  • The plants in (the former) Sterculiaceae are divided between the subfamilies Sterculioideae, Helicteroideae, Dombeyoideae and Byttnerioideae.
  • The plants in (the former) Tiliacae are divided between the subfamilies Brownlowioideae, Tilioideae and Grewioideae.
Of course, it is not me that you have to convince. Brya 18:13, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm cool with that, except that "(the former)" is unnecessary, and implies the correctness of the revised characterisation (which would lead to complaints about POV). SRH, 20:51, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
Well "former" is perhaps not the best choice of words. I am just unhappy about using two (or more) names in the same sentence when each is used in a different classification. A plant cannot belong to both Tiliaceae and Tilioideae (sensu APG). The distinction could also be conveyed by the chosen tense of the verb, maybe
"The plants in Tiliacae would then be divided between the subfamilies Brownlowioideae, Tilioideae and Grewioideae."
might do? Brya 21:45, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
There's nothing particularly wrong with "former" - in other contexts I would use it myself. Other than that I seem to be more sanguine than you about readers ability to read material in context.

I haven't had the time or energy to deal with this lately. Obviously, I would prefer my own edits. One thing I would note is that S.R. Hinsley's edits rewrite the article quite a bit more radically than the ones I have been proposing, and for that reason alone it's hard to compare the two versions. MrDarwin 18:50, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

When it comes to style of writing, my preference would run 1) my own style, 2) MrDarwin's style, 3) S.R.Hinsley's style. Going by content I would like to see a synthesis of as much hard data as has been entered. The big question remains what would be acceptable to Berton as giving an adequate representation of his perspective. Obviously none of us (except Berton) likes the WAY Berton has represented this, although clearly it does deserve to be represented.
So, I will go along with anything that is free from anything that is really objectionable (to any one person), so anything that is more or less acceptable to everybody. Brya 22:17, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
My concern is not so much with style as with content and layout. I think the proposed rewrite loses some of the information that is already in the article. I really don't think the original article as written is far off from being a good one, if only Berton would allow us to make the small POV edits he keeps objecting to. MrDarwin 16:45, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
I will go along with that: the present version contains some quite decent parts. The only thing I really hate is the "consensus" bit and attendant text; also the idea that assigning rank follows some natural law. At this point I am quite unsure of what would be acceptable to Berton. If it is really necessary we could just override him, but I would rather avoid that. Brya 18:47, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
What information do you think should be kept and has been lost? I don't think we want the list of taxonomists whose circumscription of Malvaceae approximated Cronquist's (or works following APG), or the reference to IPNI, or the paragraph on Edlin (which currently serves the purpose of "balancing" the list of taxonomists), or the Perveen et al reference (demonstrating the use of the "APG" classification in the literature). (I'm not sure that the echinate/rugose pollen distinction between Malvoideae and Bombacoideae is valid.) S.R. Hinsley, Lavateraguy 20:50, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Suggestion for taxoboxes[edit]

User:Brya brings up the point that the taxoboxes are excessively rigid. Take a look at how they dealt with it in the French Wikipedia: Article on Tilia which presents both the "classical" and the "phylogenetic" classifications for the families in the taxobox. A possible way to go for disputed families until there is a clear consensus among botanists and thereby reducing the confusion of us poor laymen. This is just a suggestion which you might want to talk over at Wikipedia:WikiProject Plants or Wikipedia:WikiProject Tree of Life. I got here and checked out the discussion as a result of a comparision I made at Talk:Tamarack Larch. (Where some chiming in on my proposed move/rename would be appreciated). Luigizanasi 05:08, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

List of Genera in Malvaceae s.s.[edit]

Apart from the problem of extracting a list of genera in Malvaceae s.s. from Kubitzki & Bayer when K&B don't have a Malvaceae s.s., the modified list is not based on Kubitzki and Bayer - Andeimalva and Bordasia are not in K&B (nor is Thepparatia, added earlier) and while you could make a case for adding Camptostemon and not Pentaplaris and Uladendron, you need to reference recent papers and not K&B to do so - Camptostemon appears to fall into a clade with Lagunaria and Howittia, and Pentaplaris and Uladendron are more basal. The modifications (if not original research) appear to be based on Malvaceae Info, but if this is the case leaving out Pentaplaris and Uladendron would seem to be original research.

I was never happy with the presence of the Kew list - it's fairly badly dated. For example the latest paper I can find accepting Notoxylinon is a 1947 paper by Hutchinson. (He rejects it in the Genera of Flowering Plants.) The sinking of Notoxylinon in Gossypium by P.A. Fryxell dates, I think, to 1965. Erioxylum is similar, and some of the other names are not current, or not commonly used. Lavateraguy 01:51, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

Yes, Lavateraguy, Andeimalva and Bordasia: I based on you and at IPNI website to complete the list, your merit.
With regard to Camptostemon the source is Heywood et al. 2007. Bayer & Kubitzki say (p. 237): "A number of genera (e.g. Pentaplaris, Camptostemon , Lagunaria, Uladendron) ... are intermediate and have been referred to either subfamily [Malvoideae or Bombacoideae] (Alverson et al. 1999; ...)."
With regard to Kew list is based on Brummitt, R. K. (1992). Vascular Plant Families and Genera.It is outdated, but I do not know any another that replace it. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Berton (talkcontribs) 02:20, August 22, 2007 (UTC).

State of the article[edit]

Let me be a bit <add favourite word>. After all of this discussion, what do we have? An article that is not very worth reading, if you are interested in actual plants. What does the article talk about? The different points of view of many differnt botanists. Wikipedia is not the place for discussing opinions, but to present facts. Descriptions are more important than circumsciptions, choosing one or the other is a matter of choice. I'm willing to revamp the article after Asteraceae will be finished. I shall follow the circumscription presented at the Angiosperm Phylogeny Website because I choose to present a modern POV (one of the many?), despite it may sound strange to many and despite it may change dramatically the day after tomorrow, so to say. You may create an article on the history of the definition of Malvaceae, if you think it worth the effort. Or you may stop me if you want. Please, don't revert, just politely say: no, thanks, this is what we all wanted to reach. Aelwyn 14:07, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

By all means, please have at it. I have never been satisified with this article and it desperately needs some new blood. I would only ask that information not be deleted, although as you suggest the classification & circumscription detail might be better as a separate article under a title like "Classification of Malvaceae" or "Classification of Malvales". The greater-than-usual taxonomic detail in this article was the result not only of some rather acrimonious debate (as documented on this very talk page), but also the fact that the classification of this group has been, and still is, rather unsettled. Because of this I would disagree that opinions are unimportant--classifications are opinions, and how can you have a description of a group if you don't know (or explicitly define) what the elements of that group are? Please read the discussions related to this article, as well as Malvales, Tiliaceae, Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae, etc. as these articles are all intimately related and need to be edited in parallel. Good luck! MrDarwin 19:12, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
User Berton may be right, but he would be vox clamantis in deserto. His opinion does not have consensus. One may point out that, just to mention a name, Darwin didn't have either. In any case, an encylopaedia should primarily present information as generally accepted, otherwise it would be something different. The cladistic approach is nowadays generally accepted by taxonomists, nobody could possibly state it is not. Thus the choice is not mine, I am just an article editor. I shall read all of the discussion, thanks for the support, watch my edits and... Aelwyn 19:57, 8 November 2007 (UTC) PS: Sometimes I feel I have to apologise for my English.

Number of genera/species[edit]

Yesterday, coincidentally, I copied my list of genera into a CSV file to use to drive bits of my web site, so as a side effect I have a count of the number of genera conveniently to hand. I recognise 249 genera (List of Genera) (excluding fossil genera), which backtracking gives 243 genera recognised in the 2005 revision by Kubitzki and Bayer. The Angiosperm Phylogeny Website also gives 243 genera, but the list given there doesn't, short of counting names, look as if it matches. (Of course there is no complete agreement on the number of genera - the recent Flora of China rejects Fioria, Talipariti and Pityranthe, but accepts Excentrodendron.)

My (incomplete) list of species is up to 2717 entries. The Angiosperm Phylogeny Website says 4225. Lavateraguy 11:57, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

After adding species from Guiana, Mexico, northeast Brasil and Cuba my tally of species has now topped 3300. Lavateraguy (talk) 13:55, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

My list is getting nearer completion; the current tally is 4814 species. Lavateraguy (talk) 01:25, 13 July 2014 (UTC)

Species counts (generic)[edit]

The genus article for Sida says 125 to 150 species (but Kubitzki & Bayer says 100). My files have 122 species, plus 40 odd undescribed taxa from Australia (some of which may turn out to fall into one of the published species), but my files don't cover the whole of the world. 200 species doesn't seem impossible, though I don't know of a source. OTOH, Sida is polyphyletic, and one of these days someone is going to chop it into bits. (There are already quite a few segregates, but Dendrosida looks as if it should go back into Sida.) K&B suggest that many species should be transferred to Sidastrum.

Sida is not the only genus with problems. Hibiscus is massively paraphyletic, and one proposal is to sink several genera, including Pavonia in Hibiscus giving a Hibiscus with over 600 species. Lavateraguy (talk) 15:04, 17 November 2007 (UTC)


As a rather late addendum to the circumscription issues, I just got a copy of the new "Flowering Plant Families of the World" by Heywood et al. They maintain Malvaceae in a strict sense, but only by splitting the "core Malvales" rather finely into a series of smaller and narrowly defined families (Bombacaceae, Byttneriaceae, Brownlowiaceae, Durionaceae, Helicteraceae, Malvaceae, Pentapetaceae, Sparrmanniaceae, Sterculiaceae, and Tiliaceae); while the "traditional" core Malvalean families are recognized, they are defined by Heywood et al. much more narrowly than in traditional classifications. MrDarwin 16:22, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

There's a proposal to conserve Dombeyaceae (against Pentapetaceae) Lavateraguy 19:40, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

False link from Pentaglottis?[edit]

link Pentaglottis goes to (a)

on the basis of

 Pentaglottis Wall.

in that page.

Following on to: (b)

 Pentaglottis Wall. is a synonym of Melhania Forsk. (sic)

On the wiki Melhania page is Melhania velutina Forssk.



 Synonyms ...
 Pentapetes velutina Vahl Unresolved L WCSP (in review)

which makes it look like a false connection between Pentapetes and Pentaglottis


complements this.

My conclusion is that the Melhania (a) page synonym should refer to Pentapetes not Pentaglottis and that therefore the Malvaceae (b) source should too.

Martin Peter Clarke (talk) 08:52, 6 October 2015 (UTC)

Malvaceae Info is correct (assuming that P. tomentosa Wall. is the type of Pentaglottis Wall.). There are two different Pentaglottis genera - Pentaglottis Tausch is the one to which Pentaglottis sempervirens belongs, and Pentaglottis Wall. is a different one, in which P. tomentosa is a synonym of Melhania hamiltoniana and P. suberifolia is a synonym of Pterospermum heyneanum. According to IPNI both date from 1829, but I presume that Pentaglottis Tausch was published marginally earlier. The link from Pentaglottis sempervirens to Malvaceae is indeed incorrect - either treat Pentaglottis and Pentaglottis sempervirens in the standard fashion for monotypic genera, or convert Pentaglottis to a dab page. Lavateraguy (talk) 15:00, 6 October 2015 (UTC)