The Archives

Rare book collectionThe RSABG Library houses the Gardens’ institutional archives, which contain staff publications, original manuscripts, field notes, original artwork, photographs, correspondence, and historical documents from both the Orange County and Claremont sites.

The Garden’s collection includes the Marcus Jones Archives and Collection, as well as the Samuel Parish Collection; both men were local botanists in the late 19th century.

Finding Aids

J. Mark Porter

Research Scientist, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Associate Professor of Botany, Claremont Graduate University

Phylogenetics and systematics of Polemoniaceae

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Research interests:

I am a vascular plant systematist with broad interests in evolutionary biology and reproductive ecology, and a special emphasis on quantitative phylogenetics. Indeed, most of my research has a strong phylogenetic component. I have been involved in research focusing upon systematics, classification, evolution of pollination mechanisms, and quantitative change in corolla morphology, conservation, and floristics. Much of my recent research has concentrated on the Phlox family, Polemoniaceae. These studies have included comparative DNA sequence (e.g., nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer, GapC, tpi, chas, chloroplast trnL intron, trnL-trnF intergenic spacer [IGS], trnS-trnG IGS, ndhF-trnL region, and mitochondrial nad1 intron), comparative morphological, palynological, and anatomical investigations, as well as pollination surveys. These comparative studies have been used to test hypotheses concerning evolution of pollination mechanisms and breeding systems, and hypotheses concerning the age and diversification of Polemoniaceae. This research has resulted in a new classification of the family, revision of Aliciella, revised classification of Ipomopsis (including phylogeny and age estimates), and a broad-scaled comparative and monographic study of Loeselia (in progress).

In addition to the Phlox family, I have continued research in the Cactus family, in collaboration with Jennifer Cruse Sanders, Charlie Butterworth, and Kenneth D. Heil. Our studies have centered on two cold-hardy genera of western United States, Sclerocactus and Pediocactus, and have included taxonomic, comparative morphological and DNA investigations. These studies have been used to address conservation issues, surrounding the rare members of Sclerocactus and Pediocactus.

It is my desire to integrate traditional systematic approaches (comparative anatomy, morphology, cytology, etc) and more modern methods (comparative DNA sequence, microsatellite and/or other genetic data) and bring these to bear on issues of adaptation, under the umbrella of common ancestry and phylogeny.



Loeselia Clade



Porter, J. M., L. A. Johnson, and D. Wilken. 2010. Phylogenetics and evolution of Ipomopsis (Polemoniaceae): inferences from chloroplast trnL-F and nuclear ribosomal ITS DNA sequences. Systematic Botany, in press. (pdf)

Porter, J. M., and V. W. Steinmann. 2009. Two new Loeselia (Polemoniaceae) species from Michoacán, Mexico. Systematic Botany 34: 730-736 (pdf)

Griffith, M. P., and J. M. Porter. 2009. Phylogeny of Opuntioideae (Cactaceae). International Journal of Plant Sciences 170: 107–116. (pdf)
Porter, J. M., and L. A. Prather. 2008. Cantua dendritica (Polemoniaceae) a new species from Peru, and two new Cantua names. Aliso 24: 31–35. (pdf)

Columbus, J. T., E. A. Friar, J. M. Porter, L. M. Prince, and M. G. Simpson (eds.). 2007. Monocots: Comparative Biology and Evolution—Poales. Aliso 23: 1–682. 2006. Monocots: Comparative Biology and Evolution—Excluding Poales. Aliso 22: 1–735.

Friar, E. A., L. M. Prince, E. H. Roalson, M. E. McGlaughlin, J. M. Cruse-Sanders, S. J. De Groot and J. M. Porter. 2006. Ecological speciation in the east Maui-endemic Dubautia (Asteraceae) species. Evolution, 60: 1777–1792. (pdf)

Johnson, L. A., K. H. Huish, and J. M. Porter. 2004. Seed surface sculpturing and its systematic significance in Gilia (Polemoniaceae) and segregate genera. International Journal of Plant Sciences 165: 153-172. (pdf)

Heil, K. D. and J. M. Porter. 2004 Sclerocactus. pp. 197-206, and Pediocactus. pp. 211-216, In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. Flora of North America North of Mexico. vol. 4. New York and Oxford.

Porter, J. M. and L. A. Johnson. 2000. A phylogenetic classification of Polemoniaceae. Aliso 19: 55-91. (pdf)

Porter, J. M., M. Kinney, and K. D. Heil. 2000. Relationships between Sclerocactus and Toumeya (Cactaceae) based in chloroplast trnL-F sequences. Haseltonia 7: 8–23. (pdf)
Morrell, P. L., J. M. Porter and E. A. Friar. 2000. Intercontinental dispersal: the origin of the widespread South American plant species Gilia laciniata (Polemoniaceae) from a rare California and Oregon coastal endemic. Plant Syst. Evol. 13–32. (pdf)

Porter, J. M. and L. A. Johnson 1998. Phylogenetic relationships of Polemoniaceae: inferences from mitochondrial nad1b intron sequences. Aliso 17: 159–190.

Porter, J. M. 1998. Aliciella, a recircumscribed genus of Polemoniaceae. Aliso 17: 23–46. (pdf)

Porter, J. M. 1998. Nomenclatural changes in Polemoniaceae. Aliso 17: 83–85. (pdf)

Heil, K. D. and J. M. Porter. 1994. Sclerocactus: A revision. Haseltonia 2: 20–46.

Cacteae Research

The Cacteae Research Website is established for the dissemination of information relating to Cactaceae, Subfam. Cactoideae, Tribe Cacteae.


New Research in Cacteae:

Comparative biology of Cacteae (Cactaceae): the role of heterochrony in the evolution of form.

Charlie Butterworth, Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, Arizona, USA 85008-3437

Mark Porter, Graduate Program in Botany, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, 1500 N College Ave., Claremont California, USA 91711-3157

Terresa Terrazas, Programa de Botanica, Colegio de Postgraduados, Montecillo, Estado de Mexico, Mexico

J. Hugo Cota-Sanchez, Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada


Project Summary

Cacti represent an astounding radiation of desert plants in the New World. With diverse morphological forms, cacti, especially members of tribe Cacteae, the North and Central American Barrel Cacti, are immediately recognizable to the vast majority of adults and children, and as such are reputed to be “Nature’s tough survivors.” Despite the group’s popularity, our knowledge of the nature of its radiation, and its genealogical relationships in Cactaceae, remains relatively poor, and different taxonomic treatments are often at odds, due in part to convergent and confusing morphologies. Over the last ten years, a number of studies have used DNA sequence data to resolve relationships among cacti and have demonstrated that, although some historic classifications of subfamilies and tribes reflect remarkable insight, phylogenetic relationships among genera and species in some groups, such as tribe Cacteae, remain elusive.

Previous research by the PIs has addressed a number of issues in tribe Cacteae. However, this research has been far from conclusive and highlights the necessity for a broad-scale, concerted, and collaborative research program aimed at the entire tribe. The proposed research will use modern molecular methods in conjunction with morphological to develop an estimate phylogenetic relationships, evaluate the tempo and mode of morphological evolution, examine the long-standing hypothesis that neoteny (a from of heterochronic change) is a common and repeated pattern of evolution, and to develop a classification in the tribe. Phylogenetic relationships of tribe Cacteae will be estimated using four regions of the chloroplast genome, two low-copy nuclear markers, and two regions of the mitochondrial genome. We will generate a comparative database of 183 morphological and anatomical traits that will be made available at the project’s website. The morphological data will be cladistically analyzed and evaluated using the molecular phylogenies to determine if suites of traits associated with heterochrony display excessively high homoplasy. Lastly, we will test 10 hypotheses of heterochronic evolution, to determine if neoteny is a common and important mode of evolution in tribe Cacteae, as suggested by several authors. This research will provide vital data for addressing taxonomic, developmental and conservation issues in this group of remarkably diverse cacti. Furthermore, the developmental (heterochrony) aspect of this study will form a foundation for future research on evolutionary development in cacti.

Taxonomic Placement of Cacteae
Genera of Cacteae: species lists
Comparison of historic classification of Cacteae (Butterworth et al. 2002)
Comparative traits to be surveyed in Cacteae