Compositae were first described in 1792 by the German botanist Paul Dietrich Giseke. Traditionally two subfamilies were recognised: Asteroideae (or Tubuliflorae) and Cichorioideae (or Liguliflorae). The latter has been shown to be extensively paraphyletic, and has now been divided into 11 subfamilies, but the former still stands. The phylogenetic tree presented below is based on Panero & Funk (2002). The diamond denotes a very poorly supported node (<50% bootstrap support), the dot a poorly supported node (<80%).
It is noteworthy that the four subfamilies Asteroideae, Cichorioideae, Carduoideae and Mutisioideae contain 99% of the species diversity of the whole family (approximately 70%, 14%, 11% and 3% respectively).
Because of the morphological complexity exhibited by this family, agreeing on generic circumscriptions has often been difficult for taxonomists. As a result, several of these genera have required multiple revisions.
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