A clade (//; from Ancient Greek: κλάδος, klados, "branch"), also known as a monophyletic group or natural group, is a group of organisms that are monophyletic—that is, composed of a common ancestor and all its lineal descendants - on a phylogenetic tree. Rather than the English term, the equivalent Latin term cladus (plural cladi) is often used in taxonomical literature.
The common ancestor may be an individual, a population, a species (extinct or extant), and so on right up to a kingdom and further. Clades are nested, one in another, as each branch in turn splits into smaller branches. These splits reflect evolutionary history as populations diverged and evolved independently. Clades are termed monophyletic (Greek: "one clan") groups.
Over the last few decades, the cladistic approach has revolutionized biological classification and revealed surprising evolutionary relationships among organisms. Increasingly, taxonomists try to avoid naming taxa that are not clades; that is, taxa that are not monophyletic. Some of the relationships between organisms that the molecular biology arm of cladistics has revealed are that fungi are closer relatives to animals than they are to plants, archaea are now considered different from bacteria, and multicellular organisms may have evolved from archaea.