Buxifolia clade (Melastomataceae: Memecylon) has an overall range from East Africa to the eastern part of South Africa and Madagascar. We focused on three seemingly non-monophyletic taxa, Memecylon natalense, M. bachmannii, and M. australisimum in the Buxifolia clade distributed in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Limpopo provinces that span the tropical-temperate transition. These taxa are morphologically distinct, spatially isolated, and differ in flowering periods, but nuclear rDNA spacer sequences (ITS and ETS) were found to be identical and cluster together in an unresolved polytomy. As species-level phylogeny reconstruction can be complicated by hybridization and incomplete lineage sorting (ILS), we used multiple low-copy nuclear (LCN) loci. However, our LCN phylogeny was still a mess. By integrating network analyses, cytological techniques, and admixture analyses we found a putative reticulation of this group (Amarasinghe et al, 2021).

Here is a blog from Pondoland Crew, South Africa about one of our field visits: