Restionoideae Link, with the newly described Sporadanthoideae and Leptocarpoideae, represent major clades of Restionaceae distinguished by analyses of chloroplast DNA data. These subfamilies are supported by features of morphology, culm anatomy, pollen and phytochemistry.
Sporadanthoideae occur in Australia and New Zealand, Leptocarpoideae principally in Australia but with representatives also in New Zealand, New Guinea, Aru Islands, Malesia, Hainan Island and Chile, while Restionoideae are in sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. Two tribes, Restioneae Bartl. and Willdenowieae Mast. are recognised within Restionoideae, but their circumscriptions are very different from those of the tribes previously recognised within African Restionaceae. The relationship of Centrolepidaceae to Restionaceae remains unresolved, as sister group or embedded within the latter, but there is some support for Centrolepidaceae embedded within Australian Restionaceae and sister to Leptocarpoideae. This highly distinctive clade may be recognised as subfamily Centrolepidoideae Burnett if included within Restionaceae. Tribe Haplantherae Benth. & Hook. f. has the same circumscription as Restionaceae, as currently recognised, and Restio Rottb. is designated as the lectotype of this tribal name.