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Systematic investigations and phylogenetic analyses of the Blakeeae Melastomataceae have indicated that Topobea should be synonymized under Blakea , and Huilaea under Chalybea. Presented here is a detailed description of the Blakeeae, a key to its two accepted genera, and a listing of 62 new combinations, including 3 new names, necessitated by the transfer of Topobea as follows: Three additional species are found in the West Indies. Members of this tribe are notable for their often large, showy flowers that attract a diversity of pollinators including bees, birds, bats, and rodents Lumer Mites and ants live in mutualistic associations in leaf and stem domatia of many Blakeeae Penneys and Judd Numerous species in this tribe have great horticultural potential, are relatively easy to grow in temperate zone greenhouses, but are rarely cultivated.
The Blakeeae, as historically circumscribed, comprises nearly species in two genera, Blakea L. However, morphological, molecular, and combined phylogenetic analyses Penneys et al. Morphological characters pertaining to the androecium that have been used as a basis for separating these two genera have proven to be homoplasious and of limited taxonomic value Penneys , Penneys and Judd , Penneys and Judd in press. Recognition of Topobea renders both that genus and Blakea polyphyletic, thus Topobea is here relegated to synonymy under Blakea.
According to Cogniaux , the filaments in Blakea are thick, while in Topobea they are filiform. The latter character state was found in only three species of Topobea , and even the generotype, Topobea parasitica Aubl.
The anthers of Blakea have been said Cogniaux , Almeda a to be laterally compressed, while those of Topobea are rounded. Close examination of Topobea anthers proves that they are also laterally flattened, though since the anthers are generally more subulate, this fact is less apparent than in Blakea Penneys , Penneys and Judd Morphological characters synapomorphic for an expanded Blakea include the prevalent but not exclusively hemiepiphytic habit; axillary, nonramified truncate monotelic synflorescences, flowers subtended by two pairs of decussate bracts, external calyx teeth lacking, flowers zygomorphic due to the declinate androecium, and anthers laterally compressed Penneys and Judd Chalybea Naudin and Huilaea Wurdack, were formerly placed in the Miconieae Naudin , Triana , Wurdack , Judd and Skean , presumably on the basis of their having berry fruits.
Morphological and molecular phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that the two genera properly belong in the Blakeeae, forming a clade with ten species sister to Blakea Penneys et al. The inclusion of Chalybea in the Blakeeae necessitates an expansion of the recognized morphological variation within the tribe see below.