Close up of pink flowers on brown stem.

Lawrence M. Kelly

Vice President for Science Administration
Susan E. Lynch Director of Graduate Studies
Editor-in-Chief, Flora Neotropica

Ph.D., Cornell University
Ithaca, NY, 1998


Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort family), Symplocaceae (Sweetleaf family), Saurauia (Actinidiaceae; Kiwi family)


Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort family), Symplocaceae (Sweetleaf family), Saurauia (Actinidiaceae; Kiwi family)

Research locations

neotropics, worldwide


Lawrence Kelly’s research focuses on the evolution and classification of flowering plants, primarily in three different groups: the birthwort family (Aristolochiaceae), the sweetleaf family (Symplocaceae), and certain members of the kiwi family (Saurauia, Actinidiaceae). The principal products of his work are phylogenetic hypotheses, taxonomic monographs, and floristic treatments. Lawrence is also interested in the flora of Mexico and Central America, and in developing electronic keys for plant identification. His phylogenetic research has centered on relationships within the Aristolochiaceae, and especially the wild gingers (Asarum). Lawrence has integrated molecular and morphological data to address relationships in these groups, and used the results to focus on biogeographic and evolutionary questions in the family. His current involvement in floristic projects includes participation in Flora Mesoamericana (Symplocos, Saurauia), Flora of Chiapas (Symplocos), Flora of China (Aristolochiaceae), and the Flora of the Tehuacan Valley in Mexico.

Selected Publications

Kelly, L. M. 1997. A cladistic analysis of Asarum (Aristolochiaceae) and implications for the evolution of herkogamy. Amer. J. Bot. 84: 1752-1765.

Kelly, L. M. 1998. Phylogenetic relationships in Asarum (Aristolochiaceae) based on morphology and ITS sequences. Amer. J. Bot. 85: 1454-1467.

Kelly, L. M. 2001. Taxonomy of Asarum section Asarum (Aristolochiaceae). Syst. Bot. 26: 17-53.

Kelly, L. M. and F. Almeda. 2002. Three new species of Symplocos (Symplocaceae) from Panama and Costa Rica. Novon 12: 369-374.

Kelly, L. M. and F. González. 2003. Phylogenetic relationships in Aristolochiaceae. Syst. Bot. 28: 236-249.

Hwang, S.-M., L. M. Kelly, and M. Gilbert. 2003. Aristolochiaceae. Flora of China 5: 246-269. Sciences Press, Beijing, and Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.

Campos V., A., L. M. Kelly, and A. Delgado S. 2004. Bejucos y otras trepadoras de la estación de Biología Tropical “Los Tuxtlas”. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. (Book: An illustrated guide to the vines of Los Tuxtlas Reserve, Veracruz)

Wang, Y., P. W. Fritsch, S. Shi, F. Almeda, B. C. Cruz, and L. M. Kelly. 2004. Phylogeny and infrageneric classification of Symplocos (Symplocaceae) inferred from DNA sequence data. Amer. J. Bot. 91: 1901-1914.

Kelly, L. M. and F. Almeda. 2005. Symplocaceae. In: Flora of Chiapas. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences.

Kelly, L. M. and F. Almeda. 2006. Symplocos pachycarpa (Symplocaceae), a new species from southern Mexico. Brittonia 58: 318-321.

Fritsch, P. W., Kelly, L. M., Y. Wang, F. Almeda, and R. Kriebel. 2008. Revised infrafamilial classification of Symplocaceae based on phylogenetic data from DNA sequences and morphology. Taxon 57: 1–31.

Kelly, L. M. 2011. Establishing dates of valid publication for Luigi Buscalioni’s names in Saurauia (Actinidiaceae). Taxon 60: 1173–1188.

Huang, Y-Y., S. A. Mori & L. M. Kelly. 2011. A morphological cladistic analysis of Lecythidoideae with emphasis on Bertholletia, Corythophora, Eschweilera, and Lecythis. Brittonia 63: 396–417.

Kriebel, R., F. A. Michelangeli & L. M. Kelly. 2014. Discovery of unusual anatomical and continuous characters in the evolutionary history of Conostegia (Miconieae: Melastomataceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 82: 289–313. DOI 10.1016/j.ympev.2014.09.021 (published online 19 October 2014).

Huang, Y.-Y., S. A. Mori & L. M. Kelly. 2015. Toward a phylogenetic-based Generic Classification of Neotropical Lecythidaceae—I. Status of Bertholletia, Corythophora, Eschweilera, and Lecythis. Phytotaxa 203(2): 85–121.

Sinn, B. T., L. M. Kelly & J. V. Freuenstein. 2015. Phylogenetic relationships in Asarum: Effect of data partitioning and a revised classification. American Journal of Botany 102: 765–779.

Kelly, L. M., F. Almeda & P. W. Fritsch. 2016. A taxonomic revision of Mexican and Central American Symplocos (Symplocaceae). Phytotaxa 264(1): 1–115.

Sinn, B. T., D. D. Sedmak, L. M. Kelly & J. V. Freudenstein. 2018. Total duplication of the small single copy region in the angiosperm plastome: Rearrangement and inverted repeat instability in Asarum. American Journal of Botany 105: 71-84.