Table II summarizes the way in which the Lecythidaceae has been subdivided in the most important taxonomic treatments. Details of other minor variations have been given in the taxonomic history in Chapter II. The Lecythidaceae has been placed within the Myrtaceae in most historic treatments such as those of de Candolle (1828) and Bentham and Hooker (1865) or it has been regarded as a separate family or split into several families in more recent classifications. The Asteranthaceae, Belvisiaceae, Foetidiaceae, Napoleonaeaceae, Barringtoniaceae, and Lecythidaceae have all been regarded as separate families in various combinations by different authors (Lindley, 1846; Miers, 1874, 1875a; Knuth, 1939a, b, c; Hutchinson, 1973; Airy-Shaw, 1973; etc.). These segregate families, or some of them, have also been treated as subfamilies of Lecythidaceae (Niedenzu, 1892; Pichon, 1945) or tribes of Myrtaceae (de Candolle, 1828; Berg, 1858; Bentham and Hooker, 1865; etc.).
In our opinion these taxa are closely related and belong together regardless of what taxonomic rank they are given. We agree with Payens (1967) that there is no strong argument to recognize more than one family as the members are too intricately and reticulately knit together (see Table IV). There are, however, some important differences in pollen, chromosome number, anatomy, etc. and so we follow the classification first suggested by Niedenzu
(1892) in which these differences are recognized at the subfamilial level. The neotropical Lecythidaceae, with the exception of the monotypic Asteranthos of the Napoleonaeoideae, all belong to the subfamily Lecythidoideae. However, our placement of Asteranthos is open to question since the seeds of this genus are unique in the family (see Chapter IV, Part 5). Consequently, its position must be considered provisional until further evidence is accumulated, especially from cytology and the comparative anatomy of Asteranthos, Crateranthus, and Napoleonaea. Our current conspectus of the number of species and distribution of genera of all subfamilies of Lecythidaceae is given in Table III. Descriptions of each subfamily and a key to the subfamilies are provided at the beginning of the systematic treatment of the family (Chapter XII).
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