Phylogenetic analysis of water lilies in Deep Time: What do leaves tell us about evolution?
The Nymphaeales (Cabombaceae, Nymphaeaceae, and Hydatellaceae) are central to discussions of early angiosperm evolution since they are one of the most basal clades of living flowering plants. In addition, they are the most diverse of the basal clades and are the first clade of aquatic angiosperms.
Because of their importance, considerable work continues on their relationships, current speciation, and genomic structure. My work continues to clarify the phylogeny based on vegetative characteristics, with the addition of fossil species. The growing fossil record in a phylogenetic context provides evidence of the evolution of species and structures as well as a temporal framework for the evolution of the taxa.
The fossil record strongly suggests members of the clade have been aquatic for over 100 million years, and it has been speciose for much of the time. New discoveries of dissected, probably submerged leaves may provide clues for finding older unrecognized angiosperm leaves.