Abstract. The genus Veronica s. lat. comprises about 450 species (including about 180 species from the southern hemisphere Hebe-complex), many of which grow in the Mediterranean area. Their extreme variability in morphology, life form and habitats has led to many suggestions regarding evolution and biogeography. Difficulties arise from parallel syndromes, widespread among alpine species and lowland perennials, and particularly among annual species of the genus. We have used sequences of the plastid trnL-F region and nuclear ribosomal ITS sequences to differentiate between different clades of Veronica and reveal cases of parallel evolution. Based on this data, cases of parallel evolution have been found in biogeographical patterns among the alpine species of Veroniceae, in which species from European mountains have affinities to those in the Central Asian/Himalayan region whereas alpine species from Turkey are probably more recently derived from lowland southwestern Asian taxa. Different subspecies of Veronica bombycina gained their characteristic morphology independently and parallel in adaptation to their alpine environment. Pinnatifid leaves have been gained parallel in perennial grassland species of Veronica. Finally, parallel evolutionary trends in many characters, not only morphological but also molecular characters, are common among annual species of Veronica.

 

Keywords: Veronica, parallel evolution, trnL-F and ITS sequences, annual life form, alpine taxa, Mediterranean region, biogeography, Veronica, speedwell