Androsace, the second-largest genus within Primulaceae, is distributed mainly in the northern hemisphere. The largest of the sections, Chamaejasme, is distributed mainly in mountain ranges over the entire broad region. Other groups are the similarly widespread sect. Andraspis, comprising the annual or biennial taxa, and the European endemic sect. Aretia. The morphologically most primitive group, sect. Pseudoprimula, is restricted to Eastern Asia. The amphi-Beringian sect. Douglasia and the monotypic European sect. Vitaliana are often treated as separate genera, Douglasia and Vitaliana, due to their divergent morphological features. The most surprising result of a phylogenetic analysis of DNA-sequences (nuclear ITS, plastid trnL-intron plus trnL-trnF-spacer) concerns sect. Douglasia, which nests within the European sect. Aretia, being closely related to species of subsect. Dicranothrix (sect. Aretia) characterized by multi-flowered, scapous inflorescences. This is supported by cytotaxonomic data. The same base chromosome number, x = 19, is found in sect. Douglasia and in subsect. Dicranothrix, whereas subsect. Aretia has x = 20. The wide geographic gap between the amphi-Beringian sect. Douglasia and the European sect. Aretia is bridged not by Central- or East-Asian species, but by the high-arctic Siberian A. triflora. Such an arctic connection might help to explain similar disjunct distributional patterns seen in some groups of Primula (Primulaceae) or in Ranunculus glacialis (Ranunculaceae). Furthermore, the results indicate that Androsace sect. Vitaliana, morphologically unique within Androsace by its heterostylous flowers, is nested within sect. Aretia. Similarly, A. chaixii, endemic to the Western Alps and currently placed in sect. Andraspis, falls within sect. Aretia. Sect. Andraspis is highly polyphyletic. This is comparable to similar situations in other genera, whereby the annual (to biennial) life-form has developed independently on several occasions.

Key words: Androsace, biogeography, disjunctions, phylogeny, Primulaceae