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The Genus Dahlia was split into 4 sections by Paul Sorensen in 1969 and we use this below to separate the species dahlias as it is and easy system to use however Dayle Saar's recent work has shown that section Pseudodendron and section Dahlia are genetically a section and are only divided at clade level.  while section Epiphytum is not valid and belongs with Pseudodendron and some members of the Dahlia section in the variable root clade.
GENUS: Dahlia
Section Section Section Section
Pseudodendron (tree dahlias) Epiphytum
 (Vine Dahlia)
Entemophyllon  Dahlia
The Genus Dahlia with indication of sections and all recognized species.  The species are arranged below as in Sorensen (1969) with additional species, established later than then, placed afterwards.
A. section Pseudodendron (tree dahlias, base of stem woody, pinnules opposite):
1. D. excelsa

§= the identity of this species is uncertain.

Dahlia excelsa
2. D. imperialis
3. D. tenuicaulis

Dahlia tenuicaulis

 dahlia tenuicaulis
31.D. campanulata,

Dahlia campanulata
B. section Epiphytum (climbers, pinnules opposite):

4.D. macdougallii
(True Vine Dahlia) macdougallii
(True Vine Dahlia)

Status Endangered
Dahlia macdougallii
C. section Entemophyllon (herbaceous or subshrubs, pinnules alternate):

5. D. scapigeroides

6. D. foeniculifolia
7. D. linearis

8. D. rupicola
D. dissecta

10.D. congestifolia,
(extinct?) ( linearis & scapigroides hybrid?)

36.D. sublignosa
D. Section Dahlia (herbaceous, pinnules opposite):

11. D. merckii

12. D. apiculata
(Known as the Vine Dahlia in the USA)

13. cordifolia
(previously  known under the name D. cardiophylla)

14. D. purpusii

15. D. sorensenii  (Wrongly labelled as Dahlia pinnata in most botanical gardens)

16. D. pteropoda

17. D. brevis

18. D. rudis

 19. D. moorei

20. D. mollis

21. D. hintonii 

22. D. atroropurpurea
23. D. australis

24. D. sherffii

25. D. scapigera

26. D. barkerae

27. D. tenuis

28. D. coccinea
29. D. tubulata,
30. D. parvibracteata,

32. D. hjertingii,

33. D. spectabilis,

34. D. cuspidata,

35. D. neglecta,

Dahlia merckii
Dahlia rudis
Dahlia rudis 
Dahlia australis
Dahlia australis
Dahlia hjertigiiDahlia hjertingii
dahlia sorensenii
Dahlia sorensenii
dalia barkarae
Dahlia barkerae
dahlia spectabilisDahlia spectabilis
          dahlia coccinea
dahlia coccinea mapDahlia coccinea
    Dahlias from Guatemala Dahlia sp. from Guatemala  
The Garden dahlia has arisen from hybridising several specie dahlias together.  In the past the Garden Dahlia has been given scientific names all of which are not valid. below is the correct way to referring to cultivars however in referring to the garden dahlia in general in scientific literature it would be advisable to use Dahlia hortensis rather than varabilis.  The name varabilis refers to a particular cross that took place between 1791-1805.
 Dahlia "Cultivar" e.g.. Dahlia "Mary's Jomanda"
 Dahlia x hortensis ______________________________The Garden Dahlia
Previous names used for dahlia hybrids

**. Dahlia pinnata_______________ D.sorensenii x D.coccinea Hans V.Hansen & JP Hjerting

**. Dahlia varabilis______________ D.pinnata (D.sorensenii x D.coccinea) x D.sp Richard K.Cook
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