Palms as a model group for tropical rain forest research. (a) Palms have a well-documented fossil record dating back to the Late Cretaceous - for example, Sabalites leaf fossil, Eocene, Wyoming (image: Board of Trustees, National Museums Liverpool, Liverpool, UK). (b) Palm species taxonomy and distribution is well understood - species richness derived from  with updates. (c) A global, dated phylogeny is available [7,13] (branch numbers indicate palm subfamilies: (1) Arecoideae, (2) Ceroxyloideae, (3) Coryphoideae, (4) Nypoideae, (5) Calamoideae). Blue = Miocene, Orange = Oligocene, Red = Eocene, Yellow = Palaeocene, Green = Cretaceous. (d) More than 90% of all palms occur in tropical rain forest - for example, Saribus papuanus in New Guinea (image: A McRobb, RBG Kew).
Couvreur and Baker BMC Biology 2013 11:48 doi:10.1186/1741-7007-11-48