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Keywords:

  • Mauritius;
  • Reunion;
  • Rodrigues;
  • systematics

The Diospyros (Ebenaceae) species which colonized the Mascarene Islands, namely Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues, have been decimated over the years by human settlements. Of the 14 endemic species that have been described and collected for herbaria, Diospyros angulata is now believed to be extinct in Mauritius. The phylogenetic relationships of the 14 Diospyros species were determined using maximum parsimony analysis of 35 morphological characters. This analysis separated the Mascarene Diospyros into two major clades, with D. revaughanii, D. egrettarum and D. leucomelas grouped in the same strongly supported most basal clade while the rest of the species formed the other major clade. High bootstrap values were obtained for the sister species D. angulata and D. boutonania, and the clade clustering the upland species D. neraudii, D. nodosa and D. pterocalyx. There was also relatively strong support for the clade comprising D. hemiteles and D. melanida, which are located in mid altitude regions. These results indicate that Diospyros species most probably colonized the coastal areas of Mauritius and then moved to mid altitude habitats before finally reaching the upland regions. There are also strong indications that D. borbonica and D. diversifolia, endemic to Reunion and Rodrigues, respectively, resulted from migrations from Mauritius. © 2006 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2006, 150, 307–313.