Background and Aims The terrestrial orchid genus Epipactis has become a model system for the study of speciation via transitions from allogamy to autogamy, but close phylogenetic relationships have proven difficult to resolve through Sanger sequencing. Methods We analysed with restriction site-associated sequencing (RAD-seq) 108 plants representing 29 named taxa that together span the genus, focusing on section Epipactis. Our filtered matrix of 12 543 single nucleotide polymorphisms was used to generate an unrooted network and a rooted, well-supported likelihood tree. We further inferred genetic structure through a co-ancestry heat map and admixture analysis, and estimated inbreeding coefficients per sample. Key Results The 27 named taxa of the ingroup were resolved as 11 genuine, geographically widespread species: four dominantly allogamous and seven dominantly autogamous. A single comparatively allogamous species, E. helleborine, is the direct ancestor of most of the remaining species, though one of the derived autogams has generated one further autogamous species. An assessment of shared ancestry suggested only sporadic hybridization between the re-circumscribed species. Taxa with the greatest inclination towards autogamy show less, if any, admixture, whereas the gene pools of more allogamous species contain a mixture alleles found in the autogams. Conclusions This clade is presently undergoing an evolutionary radiation driven by a wide spectrum of genotypic, phenotypic and environmental factors. Epipactis helleborine has also frequently generated many local variants showing inclinations toward autogamy (and occasionally cleistogamy), best viewed as incipient speciation from within the genetic background provided by E. helleborine, which thus becomes an example of a convincingly paraphyletic species. Autogams are often as widespread and ecologically successful as allogams.
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