Multivariate morphometric analysis and taxa delimitation in two narrow greek endemics: Astragalus maniaticus and Aethionema saxatile subsp. corinthiacum


Astragalus maniaticus and Aethionema saxatile subsp. corinthiacum have vague taxonomic relationships. Astragalus maniaticus was placed in sect. Hypoglottis, but shows affinities to A. suberosus subsp. haarbachii of sect. Platyglottis. The Aethionema saxatile complex is an intriguing group, due to the wide distribution and morphological variability of its taxa. In order to elucidate the variation patterns of these two endemics and to test their morphological identity, we carried out several multivariate morphometric (stepwise canonical and classificatory) analyses. They revealed that Astragalus maniaticus cannot be distinguished from A. suberosus subsp. haarbachii on morphological grounds. Therefore, it is transferred to sect. Platyglottis and regarded a heterotypic synonym of A. suberosus subsp. haarbachii. The taxonomic interpretation of Aethionema saxatile subsp. corinthiacum necessitated a broad revision of the Ae. saxatile group in Greece and detection of its relations with Ae. rhodopaeum, a Bulgarian endemic. The analyses showed that Ae. saxatile subsp. corinthiacum represents a distinct taxon; likewise, 3 additional subspecies receive support of similar strength: subsp. creticum, subsp. graecum and subsp. oreophilum. Intermediate forms between subsp. oreophilum and subsp. saxatile were detected in NW Greece. Ae. rhodopaeum is more variable than its original circumscription and is considered as another subspecies of Ae. saxatile.

Plant Biosystems, (151), 1, pp. 108-116,