For my PhD dissertation at Rancho Santa Ana
Botanic Garden, I'm studying the genus Malacothamnus (Malvaceae)
which has several conflicting taxonomic treatments and many rare taxa. I
am using a combination of morphometric analyses, Restriction site
Associated DNA Sequencing (RAD-Seq), comparative phenology, and extensive
field evaluations to resolve the taxonomy of the genus Malacothamnus
and evaluate the conservation status of each taxon. This work will
hopefully be completed by 2022. I hope to fill in this web page with more
resources on the genus as I have time.
I've created an iNaturalist project to help
with this research which you can visit here
iNaturalist users have been a great help in documenting locations,
variation, and phenology in the genus Malacothamnus
observations are welcome. If you want help identifying Malacothamnus
this is a good place to post your observations as I regularly check this
site. Tips on what to photograph for a good ID are here
If you post Malacothamnus
observations on iNaturalist, follow these
to share your coordinates with the project to make your
observations much more useful.
While I'm putting very little time into it,
a secondary iNaturalist project looking at the animals found interacting
Observations for this project are welcome as well.
Treatments and Identification
As mentioned above, there are several
conflicting treatments. They are all problematic one way or another mostly
due to lumping, splitting, and a lot of overlapping morphological
I'm mostly following the Kearney
at present until I can produce something better. Kearney
was more of a splitter, but this treatment still actually lumped several
taxa from previous treatments. This treatment seems to follow the current
evidence the most closely and includes rare taxa lumped by other
treatments. The keys aren't perfect, but better than nothing. The Munz
mostly follows Kearney and is a bit simplified, so this is
another good option. These treatments are missing both Malacothamnus
. The Munz treatment is missing taxa from Mexico.
Do not use the Flora of North America or
Jepson treatments. The 1993 Jepson Manual and Flora of North America
treatments by David Bates are pretty much identical to each other. The
taxa in these treatments were way over-lumped making them very problematic
in relation to rare taxa. To the author's credit, he does say that the
Kearney treatment is as justifiable as his. Likewise, the current Jepson
Manual treatment is best avoided. Author Tracey Slotta made some good
progress in splitting back out some lumped taxa based on morphological
analyses, but her key is also problematic in various ways.
I have some preliminary regional keys which
I will hopefully post soon.