Classification: Matisieae

Matisieae K. Schum. in H.G.A. Engler & K.A.E. Prantl, Nat. Pflanzenfam. III, 6: 58, 63 (1890).

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The tribe Matisieae (or Quararibeae) as treated here is a group of three genera traditionally placed within Bombacaeae, but which most molecular studies place closer to Malva than to Bombax [1], and which therefore are here placed within subfamily Malvoideae of the angiosperm family Malvaceae sensu APG, rather than in subfamily Bombacoideae. Historically it has often represented a rather broader concept, sometimes including most non-core, non-Durioneae, bombacoids [2, 3, 4, 5].

The correct classification of the Malvatheca clade (subfamilies Malvoideae and Bombacoideae) is unclear, and the contents of Malvoideae, defined as all taxa more closely related to Malva than to Bombax, uncertain, but of the taxa currently placed in Malvoideae, Matiseae, or possibly the combination of Pentaplaris and Matiseae, is the sister group to the remainder of the subfamily.

There are about 80 species in total, divided between the genera Phragmotheca, Matisia and Quararibea [6]. (The division beween Matisia and Quararibea has been unclear, and the genera were sometimes combined.) All three genera are confined to the neotropics. Matisia and Quararibea are found from southern Mexico to Brasil and Peru, but Phragmotheca occurs no further north than Panama.

Derived characteristics uniting the Matisieae are oppositifolious (which also occurs in the Lasiopetaleae) or less commonly cauliflorous (which also occurs in Herrania, some species of Theobroma, and a few species of Pavonia) inflorescences, drupaceous fruits (which also occur in Malvaviscus and Anotea), and a tendency to zygomorphic flowers (which also occurs in Hibiscadelphus and a few species of Hibiscus), especially in Matisia. Matisia and Quararibea have verticillate branches.

Other characteristic features are the presence of a long staminal tube and the possession of simple ovate or elliptic leaves.

History and Nomenclature

Myrodia is a name now considered synonymous with Quararibea, but which was widely used in the 19th century, sometimes including Quararibea and then with two subgenera (Eumyrodia, to be corrected to Myrodia, and Quararibea).

In the 19th century the names Matisieae, Myrodieae and Quararibeae were used for groups at various ranks or rankless including either or both of the genera Matisia and Quararibea (and/or its synonym Myrodia). (As Phragmotheca wasn't described until 1946 [7] it is necessarily absent from older circumscriptions. However Matisieae is the only one that is given as validly published in Index Nomina Supragenericorum [8], so while both Matisieae and Quararibeae are in current use (use of Myrodieae has died out), only Matisieae is strictly available for use as a tribal name. Circumscriptions have varied considerably.

Early 19th century works often associated Matisieae with Helictereae and Plagianthinae in a broadly drawn Malvaceae, or within Sterculiaceae or Bombacaceae, those groups collectively forming the tribe Helictereae. Reichenbach and some other authors placed Helictereae (and Bombaceae) in Oxalidaceae. In this vein the name Myrodieae was introduced in 1832 by Schott and Endlicher [9], as a subdivision of tribe Helictereae in family Sterculiaceae, containing Matisia, Myrodia, Plagianthus and Quararibea, and later published by Endlicher [10] as a subtribe (to be corrected to Myrodiinae). Subsequent works added other genera from Plagianthinae, and less commonly Reevesia (Helictereae) and Kleinhovia (Byttnerieae, but historically of uncertain position). Reichenbach divided Myrodieae into Kleinhovieae (Kleinhovia), Quararibeae (Hoheria, Myrodia, Plagianthus and Quararibea) [] and Matisieae (Matisia) [11], and later into Reevesieae (Reevesia), Quararibeae (Myrodia, Plagianthus and Quararibeae) and Matisieae (Matisia) [12], these being the earliest usages of the names Matisieae and Quararibeae. However these lack a diagnosis, so are not validly published (nomina nuda); furthermore they are unranked.

Bentham [3] treated Bombacoideae as a tribe within Malvaceae, and Matisieae (to be corrected to Matisiinae) as a subtribe therein. He included 9 genera - Cavanillesia, Cheirostemon (=Chiranthodendron), Fremontia (=Fremontodendron), Hampea, Matisia, Montezuma (=Thespesia), Ochroma, Quararibea and Sceleronema, but placed Myrodia in tribe Helictereae in Sterculiaceae.

Schumann [4] included 8 genera in Matisieae - Bernouillia, Cavanillesia, Hampea, Matisia, Montezuma, Ochroma, Quararibea and Scleronema.

Edlin [5] follows Schumann except in transferring the palmate-leaved Bernouillia (the other genera are simple-leaved) to Adansonieae.

Hutchinson [2] adds Patinoa, Huberodendron and Septotheca, but transfers Cavanillesia and Scleronema to Hampeae, and Montezuma to a broad Hibisceae.

The tribe Quararibeae was introduced by Garcia-Barriga in 1952 [a]. The paper is not online, and I am unable to ascertain whether this represents a valid publication, and what genera were included within the tribe. The modern interpretation of Quararibeae/Matisieae may date from 1989 [b] (paywalled), but is certainly adopted by Baum in 2004 [1].


  1. Baum et al, Phylogenetic Relationships of Malvatheca (Bombacoideae and Malvoideae; Malvaceae sensu lato) as Inferred From Plastid DNA Sequences, American Journal of Botany 91(11): 1863-1871 (2004)
  2. Hutchinson, J.B., The Genera of Flowering Plants 2: 536-567 (1967)
  3. George Bentham, Bentham, George, Notes on Malvaceae and Sterculiaceae, J. Proc.Linn.Soc. 6: 97-123 (1862)
  4. K. Schumann, Elaeocarpacae-Sterculiaceae, Nat. Pflanzenfam. III, 6: 8-99 (1890)
  5. H.L. Edlin, A critical revision of certain taxonomic groups of the Malvales: II, New Phytologist 34(2): 122-143 (1935)
  6. Kubitzki & Bayer, Malvaceae, in Kubitzki & Bayer, Fam. Gen. Vasc. Plants V: (2003)
  7. International Plant Names Index
  8. James L.Reveal, Index Nomina Supragenericorum
  9. Schott & Endlicher, Meletemata Botanica (1832)
  10. Endlicher, Enchiridion Botanicum (1841)
  11. H.T.L. Reichenbach, Das Herbarienbuch 203 (1841)
  12. H.T.L. Reichenbach, Handbuch des natürlichen Pflanzensystems 295 (1850)


  1. García-Barriga, Contribución al estudio de las Bombacaceae de Colombia, Mutisia 2: 1-5 (1952)
  2. William S., Matisia and Quararibea (Bombacaceae) Should Be Retained as Separate Genera , Taxon 38(3): 377-388 (1989)

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