The Families of Flowering Plants: Arranged According to a New System Based on Their Probable Phylogeny - Vol. 1

The Families of Flowering Plants: Arranged According to a New System Based on Their Probable Phylogeny - Vol. 1

The Families of Flowering Plants: Arranged According to a New System Based on Their Probable Phylogeny - Vol. 1

The Families of Flowering Plants: Arranged According to a New System Based on Their Probable Phylogeny - Vol. 1

Excerpt

Perhaps no subject is of more general interest to the younger generation of botanists of the present decade than the problem of the early race-history or phylogeny of plant life, and especially during recent years of flowering or seedplants. The study of phylogeny, combined with that of the past and present distribution of plants, tends to awaken a new interest in Taxonomic Botany, and it should furnish important evidence in regard to the question of former land connections between areas now separated by wide oceans, a subject which has repeatedly attracted the attention of biologists. Especially is this the case where marked similarity in the floras of far-distant regions is clearly evident, such, for example, as those of (1) the Eastern United States and Eastern Asia, (2) the flora of the West African rain forest with that of the eastern coast of Brazil, (3) the Mascarene flora and that of Southern India, (4) the South African and West Australian floras, (5) the New Zealand and South-West American floras, and nearer home (6) the South-West British and Lusitanian floras.

Whether these areas were at one time connected by intervening land bridges, where now are deep oceans, or whether they were actually once contiguous areas which have now become separated, will for long remain a debatable question. Certainly the comparatively new theory of the origin of continents, i.e. by displacement and gradual divergence one from another, would easily explain many of the problems of plant distribution. Though this subject cannot be dealt with here, it seems significant that with few exceptions these floral affinities of distant areas are entirely in an east and west direction and hardly ever north and south. I disregard for the moment the supposed affinity between the Mediterranean and South African floras, which may be due to parallel evolution in the two hemispheres and to similarity of climate and environment in these areas.

The distribution of the filmy fern, Hymenophyllum ferrugineum, of Juan Fernandez, Chile, and New Zealand, cannot easily be explained otherwise than by a former land connection, especially when we consider also the distribution of Galaxias attenuata, a freshwater fish, which occurs in South-East Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, and subantarctic South America. A further parallel is the distinct genus Eucryphia (see map, p. 188). I merely quote these examples from among several others to show that the phylogeny of plants is intimately connected with many interesting biological problems . . .

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