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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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Polygalaceae are comprised of approximately 1000 species found worldwide in a variety of habitats. Over half of the species in the family were traditionally grouped into the polyphyletic genus Polygala and need resolution. Leaves from 21 species in 13 genera within tribe Polygaleae were field collected or taken from specimens at the Missouri Botanical Garden Herbarium (MO) to find phylogenetically useful characteristics of the foliar anatomy. The leaves were rehydrated using concentrated ammonium hydroxide, embedded in paraffin, and sectioned at 10 μm thickness using a rotary microtome. To observe epidermal features, rehydrated leaves were also cleared using 3% potassium hydroxide. Of the characteristics observed, 13 showed consistent variation and were mapped onto a previously published molecular phylogeny to find diagnosable features for the various clades of Polygaleae. While foliar anatomy showed a high degree of homoplasy, there were a few informative characteristics. The most distinct clade was that of Phlebotaenia and Rhinotropis, which were united based on having a plane margin, fibrous vascular bundles, an absence of hairs on both epidermises, and a thick adaxial cuticle.

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