Under Construction

Pieridae Swainson 1820

Andrew V. Z. Brower
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
 Alfalfa butterfly
taxon links [up-->]Pseudopontiinae [up-->]Coliadinae [up-->]Dismorphiinae [up-->]Pierinae [down<--]Papilionoidea Interpreting the tree
close box

This tree diagram shows the relationships between several groups of organisms.

The root of the current tree connects the organisms featured in this tree to their containing group and the rest of the Tree of Life. The basal branching point in the tree represents the ancestor of the other groups in the tree. This ancestor diversified over time into several descendent subgroups, which are represented as internal nodes and terminal taxa to the right.

example of a tree diagram

You can click on the root to travel down the Tree of Life all the way to the root of all Life, and you can click on the names of descendent subgroups to travel up the Tree of Life all the way to individual species.

For more information on ToL tree formatting, please see Interpreting the Tree or Classification. To learn more about phylogenetic trees, please visit our Phylogenetic Biology pages.

close box

The current hypothesis of relationships for pierid genera is based upon the molecular phylogenetic hypothesis of Braby et al. 2006. Taxa not included in that hypothesis are indicated as incertae sedis as indicated by the authors, and the inferred positions of several fossil pierid genera are also indicated.

Containing group: Papilionoidea


Pieridae are the sulphurs and whites, medium-sized mostly pale-colored butterflies with a world-wide distribution. There are some 1100 species.


The name Pieridae is attributed to Duponchel, 1835, in the Official List of Family Names, but J. Pelham (pers. comm.) points out that Swainson employed the name for a family-level group some 15 years prior, and argues that priority should be observed.

Other Names for Pieridae Swainson 1820


Ackery, P. R., R. de Jong, and R. I. Vane-Wright. 1999. The butterflies: Hedyloidea, Hesperioidea, and Papilionoidea. Pages 264-300 in: Lepidoptera: Moths and Butterflies. 1. Evolution, Systematics, and Biogeography. Handbook of Zoology Vol. IV, Part 35. N. P. Kristensen, ed. De Gruyter, Berlin and New York.

Braby, M. F. 2005. Provisional checklist of genera of the Pieridae (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae). Zootaxa 832:1–16.

Braby, M., R. Vila, and N. E. Pierce. 2006. Molecular phylogeny and systematics of the Pieridae (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea): higher classification and biogeography. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 147(2):239-275.

Bridges, C. A. 1988. Catalogue of Papilionidae and Pieridae (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera). Urbana, Illinois: Charles A. Bridges.

Lamas, G. 2004. Pieridae. In: Lamas G, ed. Checklist: Part 4a Hesperioidea–Papilionoidea. In: Heppner JB, ed. Atlas of Neotropical Lepidoptera, Vol. 5A. Gainesville: Association for Tropical Lepidoptera/Scientific Publishers, 99–117.

Pollock, D. D., W. B. Watt, V. K. Rashbrook, and E. V. Iyengar. 1998. Molecular phylogeny for Colias butterflies and their relatives (Lepidoptera: Pieridae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 91(5):524-531.

Stavenga, D. G., S. Stowe, K. Siebke, J. Zeil, and K. Arikawa. 2004. Butterfly wing colours: scale beads make white pierid wings brighter. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 271:1577–1584.

Title Illustrations
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Scientific Name Delias hyparete
Location Lower Peirce, Singapore
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Source Painted Jezebel
Source Collection Flickr
Image Use creative commons This media file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License - Version 2.0.
Copyright © 2007 Jwee
Alfalfa butterfly
Scientific Name Colias eurytheme
Location Bear River Ridge Road (Humboldt County, California, USA)
Comments Alfalfa butterfly
Creator T. W. Davies
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Source Colias eurytheme; Alfalfa butterfly
Source Collection CalPhotos
Copyright © 1999 California Academy of Sciences
About This Page

Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Andrew V. Z. Brower at

Page: Tree of Life Pieridae Swainson 1820. Authored by Andrew V. Z. Brower. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Brower, Andrew V. Z. 2009. Pieridae Swainson 1820. Version 15 November 2009 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Pieridae/12176/2009.11.15 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

edit this page
close box

This page is a Tree of Life Branch Page.

Each ToL branch page provides a synopsis of the characteristics of a group of organisms representing a branch of the Tree of Life. The major distinction between a branch and a leaf of the Tree of Life is that each branch can be further subdivided into descendent branches, that is, subgroups representing distinct genetic lineages.

For a more detailed explanation of the different ToL page types, have a look at the Structure of the Tree of Life page.

close box


Page Content

articles & notes



Explore Other Groups

random page

  go to the Tree of Life home page