Dahlgren et al. (1985) divided the Monocotyledons into several superorders of which the Liliiflorae is the largest. The order Asparagales is the largest of the five orders within Liliiflorea. One of the families within Asparagales recognized by Dahlgren and his co-workers was Asphodelaceae (Chase et al. (2000). Asphodelaceae consists of the sub-families, the Asphodeloideae and the Alooideae. The Alooideae consists of six genera of which Aloe is the largest. The sub-family Alooideae are noted for their spectacular secondary growth, a characteristic used to define the Alooideae as monophyletic. On the other hand, some workers within the taxa have considered the above two subfamilies were for sometime, considered to be separate families, the Asphodelaceae and Alooideae (Dagne and Yenesaw 1994). Determining the proper phylogeny was difficult because some authors have argued that Aspodeloideae is not a monophyletic group. Also, the Aspodeloideae are more varied and share a great deal of morphological similarities between other groups (Chase et al. 2000). The latest generation of chemical information on species belonging to these two groups is believed to reveal the relationships among the various taxa and to assist in establishing taxonomic classifications at various levels (Dagne and Yenesaw 1994). However, there is still not strong enough evidence suggesting both sub-families should not be included in a single family, the Asphodelaceae (Bisrata 2000). MORPHOLOGY
Asphodelaceae is a distinct family from other liliod monocot groups by a combination of several morphological and reproductive features: simultaneous microsporogensis, atypical ovular structure, lacking steroidal saponins, producing seeds with arils, and the general presence of anthraquinones. Basic morphological features of genera within the Asphodelaceae consist of mostly herbs, shrubs, and sometimes arborescent, which grows into woody forms with trunks that can grow up to several meters high. The leaves are arrangement is alternate, spiral or 2-ranked that usually form rosettes at base or ends of the branches. The leaves are often thick and succulent with parallel venation. The succulent aloes vary in size and morphology from the dwarf rosettes (Adams et al. 2000). Vascular bundles are arranged in rings around mucilaginous parenchyma tissue, the bundles have parenchymatous aloin cells in inner bundle sheath near the phloem poles. The association of aloin cells and central gelatinous zones are synapomorphic for species with Alooideae (Judd et al. 1999). The perianth is usually bisexual and showy, with 6 distinct to strongly connate, non-spotted tepals. Reproductive flower parts have 6 distinct stamens and 3 connate carpels and a superior ovary that contain nectaries in septa. Fruits are almost always non-fleshy, or fleshy (Lomatophyllum), in a dehiscent loculicidal capsule. The seeds are either winged, or wingless and contain a dry aril that arises as an annular invagination at the distal end of the funiculus (Judd et al. 1999; Watson and Dallwitz 1992). DISTRIBUTION AND DIVERSITY
Asphodelaceae is a large genus containing 15 different genera and ~750 species (Judd et al. 1999). Accordingly the genera Aspodeline, Asphodelus, Bulbine, Bulbinella, Eremurus, Hemiphlacus, Jodrellia, Kniphofia, Paradisea, Simethis and Trachandra are placed in the sub-family Aspodeloideae while Aloe, Gasteria, Haworthia, Lomatophylum and Poellnitzia are placed the Alooideae. Most of the species are distributed throughout temperate to tropic regions of the Old World. The most diverse species are found in arid habitats in Southern Africa. Only two introduced taxa of Aloe are represented in the continental United States in parts of southern Florida and California (Judd et al. 1999) Aloe is the largest genus of ~400 species known to occur in a broad range of habitats mainly in Africa, Madagascar, and Arabia (Viljoen et...
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