I asked a similar question on Quora before, but did not get any useful answers as the program the one answerer suggested turned out to have the exact same problems as all others I have found so far.

Most programs for the construction of phylogenetic trees—being made for researchers in various biological disciplines—seem to rely on the input of a dataset that is a formulation of collected genetic and/or anatomical data.

Specifically, I am looking for a program that is like this, but with a GUI that allows tree editing (i.e. you can add and remove new taxa), for example, poorly described/novel theoretical species, dubious species, and subspecies and can be used to create simplified versions of charts like these.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE! Thank you for taking the tour, but please also go through the help pages starting with How to Ask questions effectively on this site. Note in particular that this doesn't appear to be a question that is appropriate for this forum — a tree without data is fiction not biology. ——— There is a Worldbuilding, perhaps that might be an appropriate venue for this question? Thanks! 😊 $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    Commented Jan 5, 2020 at 3:45
  • $\begingroup$ @tyersome The reason why I first asked this question on here, rather than the Worldbuilding forum was because I was not sure that anyone on there would have the expertise to answer the question, given the fact that the majority of questions deal with fantasy and (relatively) soft sci-fi concepts, and when hard scientific concepts are brought up, they are not usually in the the fields I am looking for. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 5, 2020 at 8:03
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    $\begingroup$ I agree it does not belong here but I don't understand why you can't use some general graphics program like inkscape or photoshop or something? At the end of a day you just want to draw a custom picture of a tree, no? $\endgroup$
    – BagiM
    Commented Jan 5, 2020 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not about biology as defined in the help center. $\endgroup$
    – Mesentery
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 3:38
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    $\begingroup$ I think this can be a valuable question in the context of lab techniques. I've tweaked the wording of the question to highlight that this might be a valuable question for people sketching out incomplete or weird trees. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 11:05

1 Answer 1


Have you ever tried using Mesquite?

I used it when I taught intro bio lab course as a TA. Basically you try to come up with yes or no questions, and based on how you answer these questions it will generate a tree similar to your second link.

Can be a little bit complicated, but I am sure there are many tutorials for it on its website.


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