Concept

Taxonomy of the Orchidaceae

Summary
The taxonomy of the Orchidaceae (orchid family) has evolved slowly during the last 250 years, starting with Carl Linnaeus who in 1753 recognized eight genera. De Jussieu recognized the Orchidaceae as a separate family in his Genera Plantarum in 1789. Olof Swartz recognized 25 genera in 1800. Louis Claude Richard provided us in 1817 with the descriptive terminology of the orchids. (See External links below). The next step was taken in 1830-1840 by John Lindley, who recognized four subfamilies. He is generally recognized as the father of orchid taxonomy. The next important step was taken by George Bentham with a new classification, recognizing subtribes for the first time. This classification was first presented in a paper that Bentham read to the Royal Society in 1881. Then it was published in 1883 in the final volume of Genera Plantarum. The next great contributors were Pfitzer (1887), Schlechter (1926), Mansfeld (1937), Dressler and Dodson (1960), Garay (1960, 1972), Vermeulen (1966), again Dressler (1981). and Burns-Balogh and Funk (1986). Dressler's 1993 book had considerable influence on later work. Genera Orchidacearum was published in 6 volumes over 15 years, from 1999 to 2014. It covers all of the known orchids, including a description of each genus. It reflects the considerable progress in orchid taxonomy that had been made since Dressler published his classification in 1993. In the 1990s, orchid taxonomy began to be influenced by molecular phylogenetics based on DNA sequences. The first molecular phylogenetic study to include a substantial sample of orchids was published in 1999. The first classification that was based on cladistic analysis of DNA data was published by Chase et alii in 2003. An update to that classification was published by Chase et alii in 2015. This classification takes a different approach from Genera Orchidacearum, by consolidating many of the tribes and subtribes, and by recognizing very widely circumscribed genera.
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