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Keywords:

  • biogeography – long-distance dispersal;
  • Neotropics;
  • South America

Recent molecular phylogenetic studies of Solanales and Lamiales show that Solanaceae, Verbenaceae and Bignoniaceae all diversified in South America. Estimated dates for the stem lineages of all three families imply origins in the Late Cretaceous, at which time South America had separated from the united Gondwanan continent. A comparison of clades in each family shows (1) success in most clades at dispersing to, and diversifying in, North America and/or the Caribbean, (2) a mix of adaptation to novel ecological zones and niche conservation, (3) limited dispersal to continents outside of the western hemisphere, and, where this has occurred, (4) no association between long-distance dispersal and fleshy, animal-dispersed fruits. Shared patterns among the three families contribute to a better understanding of the in situ diversification of the South American flora. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, ●●, ●●–●●.