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What is in a name?

Penaea dahlgrenii

Penaea dahlgrenii

What’s in a name? Members of family Penaeaceae are a distinct and easily recognised part of the unique South African (Cape) fynbos vegetation. Closely related are the two small and also (southern) African families Oliniaceae and Rhynchocalyx, and they are sometimes lumped into family Penaeaceae. Sister to this group is the South American family Alzateaceae, and most closely related to this group is the mostly South East Asian Crypteroniaceae. All these families are quite small (all but Crypteroniaceae and Penaeaceae with only one genus each), and it may make sense to lump all of them together into one family (named Crypteroniaceae according to Mabberley’s Plant Book, or more likely Penaeaceae, see APweb-link above), but then this distinct fynbos element (endemic in its most restricted circumscription) of Penaeaceae is lost… So what is the right thing to do? I don’t know! :)

By the way, the plant is named after Rolf Dahlgren (1932-1987) who was a swedish-born botanist and professor at the university of Copenhagen. He invented the “dahlgrenograms” and was an early proponent of cladistic methodology. He worked extensively on South African plants, and also on monocots.

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