The University Gardens

Ericaceae systematics and evolution

Our research on the flowering plant family Ericaceae is centred on the genus Erica and the collections of the University gardens, particularly Rhododendron.

Erica tetralix, the cross-leaved heather
Michael Pirie, UiB

Main content

Research themes include phylogeny and classification; biogeography and drivers of species diversification; phylogenomics and species delimitation; pollination ecology and speciation; taxonomy and nomenclature.

Our ongoing work contributes to the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) Global Conservation Consortium for Erica, which is coordinated at the University Gardens.

Selected publications:

Akinlabi, F.M., Pirie, M.D., & Oskolski, A.A. 2023. Fire, frost, and drought constrain the structural diversity of wood within southern African Erica (Ericaceae). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 203: 370–389. https://doi.org/10.1093/botlinnean/boad033

Nelson, E.C., Oliver, E.G.H., & Pirie, M.D. 2023. Erica L. (Ericaceae): homonyms amongst published names for African species and proposed replacement names. PhytoKeys 236: 157–178. https://doi.org/10.3897/phytokeys.236.110498

Pirie, M.D., Blackhall-Miles, R., Bourke, G., Crowley, D., Ebrahim, I., Forest, F., Knaack, M., Koopman, R., Lansdowne, A., Nürk, N.M., Osborne, J., Pearce, T.R., Rohrauer, D., Smit, M., & Wilman, V. 2022. Preventing species extinctions: A global conservation consortium for Erica. PLANTS, PEOPLE, PLANET 4: 335–344. https://doi.org/10.1002/ppp3.10266

Nelson, E.C., & Pirie, M. 2022. Where have all the heathers gone? Sibbaldia: The International Journal of Botanic Garden Horticulture. https://doi.org/10.24823/Sibbaldia.2022.1887

Gillespie, E.L., Madsen-McQueen, T., Eriksson, T., Bailey, A., & Murrell, Z.E. 2019. Microsatellite markers for the biogeographically enigmatic sandmyrtle (Kalmia buxifolia, Phyllodoceae: Ericaceae). Applications in Plant Sciences 7: 4–7. https://doi.org/10.1002/aps3.11267

Le Maitre, N.C., Pirie, M.D., & Bellstedt, D.U. 2019. Floral Color, Anthocyanin Synthesis Gene Expression and Control in Cape Erica Species. Frontiers in Plant Science 10: 1–9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2019.01565

Pirie, M.D., Kandziora, M., Nürk, N.M., Le Maitre, N.C., Mugrabi de Kuppler, A., Gehrke, B., Oliver, E.G.H., & Bellstedt, D.U. 2019. Leaps and bounds: geographical and ecological distance constrained the colonisation of the Afrotemperate by Erica. BMC Evolutionary Biology 19: 222. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12862-019-1545-6

Shrestha, N., Wang, Z., Su, X., Xu, X., Lyu, L., Liu, Y., Dimitrov, D., Kennedy, J.D., Wang, Q., Tang, Z., & Feng, X. 2018. Global patterns of Rhododendron diversity: The role of evolutionary time and diversification rates. Global Ecology and Biogeography 27: 913–924. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12750