An obscure family of small, narrow-leaved water plants that have for years been classified as oddball relatives of grasses turns out to represent one of the most ancient surviving lineages of flowering plants, researchers say.
These plants, the Hydatellaceae, belong with water lilies near the base of the family tree of flowering plants, say Sean Graham of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and his coworkers.
The family consists of some 10 species in Australia, New Zealand, and India. Several obvious traits, such as the clumps of bladelike leaves, do look grassy, acknowledges Graham. And earlier DNA analysis of a gene from the plants