A community-derived classification for extant lycophytes and ferns

The Pteridophyte Phylogeny Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

860 Scopus citations


Phylogeny has long informed pteridophyte classification. As our ability to infer evolutionary trees has improved, classifications aimed at recognizing natural groups have become increasingly predictive and stable. Here, we provide a modern, comprehensive classification for lycophytes and ferns, down to the genus level, utilizing a community-based approach. We use monophyly as the primary criterion for the recognition of taxa, but also aim to preserve existing taxa and circumscriptions that are both widely accepted and consistent with our understanding of pteridophyte phylogeny. In total, this classification treats an estimated 11 916 species in 337 genera, 51 families, 14 orders, and two classes. This classification is not intended as the final word on lycophyte and fern taxonomy, but rather a summary statement of current hypotheses, derived from the best available data and shaped by those most familiar with the plants in question. We hope that it will serve as a resource for those wanting references to the recent literature on pteridophyte phylogeny and classification, a framework for guiding future investigations, and a stimulus to further discourse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)563-603
Number of pages41
JournalJournal of Systematics and Evolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • classification
  • ferns
  • lycophytes
  • monophyly
  • phylogeny
  • pteridophytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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