Phylogenetic relationships within Cicuta (Apiaceae tribe Oenantheae) inferred from nuclear rDNA ITS and cpDNA sequence data

Chang Shook Lee, Stephen R. Downie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The genus Cicuta (Apiaceae tribe Oenantheae Dumort.) is the most virulently poisonous group of flowering plants native to the north temperate zone. A recent treatment recognized four species (C. bulbifera L., C. douglasii (DC.) J.M. Coult. & Rose, C. maculata L., and C. virosa L.), with C. maculata divided into four varieties. We present results of phylogenetic analyses of the nuclear ribosomal DNA (rDNA) internal transcribed spacer (ITS) locus and the region bounded by the chloroplast genes psbI and trnK 5′ exon to determine taxonomic limits and relationships among these taxa, and to assess the taxonomic status of C. douglasii, a polyploid thought to be derived from C. maculata and C. virosa. Cicuta bulbifera and C. virosa are each resolved as monophyletic, the latter is a sister group to all other species. Discordance between the ITS- and plastid-derived phylogenies and lack of resolution in the ITS trees preclude unequivocal hypotheses of relationship; all trees do suggest, however, that the allotetraploid C. douglasii is polyphyletic and possibly polytopic, with all examined accessions but one nested within C. maculata. This single outstanding accession is from California and, pending further study, might warrant recognition as a distinct species. The diploid C. bulbifera may also be of hybrid origin, as revealed by significant discordance between data sets. Within C. maculata, only the western North American var. angustifolia Hook, is resolved in the ITS trees. In the cpDNA trees, C. maculata var. angustifolia comprises a strongly supported clade with C. maculata var. bolanderi (S. Watson) G.A. Mulligan and C. douglasii, both of primarily western North American distribution. The eastern North American taxa, C. maculata vars. maculata and victorinii (Fernald) B. Boivin, also comprise a clade, sister group to C. bulbifera.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-468
Number of pages16
JournalCanadian Journal of Botany
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Apiaceae
  • Chloroplast DNA
  • Cicuta
  • Nuclear rDNA ITS
  • Oenanthe
  • Oenantheae
  • psbI
  • psbK
  • rps16 intron
  • trnK
  • trnQ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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