Heloniadeae (Melanthiaceae) presents an East Asia–North America disjunct distribution. Different molecular and morphological data nevertheless support the tribe as a monophyletic group. However, their phylogenetic relationships and biogeographic history, together with the character evolution, are not clear. Therefore, we constructed a Bayesian phylogenetic tree for Heloniadeae using cpDNA and inferred the historical biogeography and floral character evolution. The results revealed that Heloniadeae was distributed in high-latitudes of East Asia and North America, originating since 22.2 mya. The East Asia clade migrated into southwest China, and subsequently colonized the Korean Peninsula, Taiwan, the Ryukyus, and spread northward to Japan and southern Sakhalin. The evolution of the inflorescence and number of flowers were phylogenetically conserved, associated with the historical biogeography of Heloniadeae. The inflorescences transferred from raceme to sub-umbel, and the number of flowers decreased during the dispersal process, which may be accompanied by changes in the breeding system. Besides, the anthesis period was more affected by the habitat environment than phylogenetic constraints. The flowering temperature of was below 20 °C in most species, except H. kawanoi. Such a low temperature might not be conductive to pollinator activities, but it could be compensated by sustaining seed production with long-lasting flowers.
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