Phylogenetic studies comparing the Dipterocarpaceae and the Sarcolaenaceae, a tree family endemic to Madagascar, have shown that the Sarcolaenaceae share a common ancestor with Asian dipterocarps. This suggests that Asian dipterocarps drifted away from Madagascar with the India–Seychelles landmass and then dispersed through Asia. Although all dipterocarps examined so far have been found to be ectomycorrhizal, the ectomycorrhizal status of Sarcolaenaceae had not been investigated. Here we establish the ectomycorrhizal status of Sarcolaenaceae using histological and molecular methods. This indicates that the common ancestor of the Sarcolaenaceae and Asian dipterocarps was ectomycorrhizal, at least before the separation of the Madagascar–India landmass, 88 million years ago.