Taxonomy and evolution
The genus was established in 1878 by German arachnologist
Friedrich Karsch. The fringed jumping spider (
Portia fimbriata) is the type species.
Molecular phylogeny, a technique that compares the
DNA of organisms to construct the
tree of life, indicates that Portia is a member of a basal
clade (i.e. quite similar to the ancestors of all jumping spiders), and that the
Holcolaetis genera are its closest relatives.
Wanless divided the genus Portia into two
species groups: the schultzi group, in which males' palps have a fixed
apophysis; and the kenti group, in which the apophysis of each palp in the males has a joint separated by a membrane.
 The schultzi group includes P. schultzi, P. africana, P. fimbriata, and
At least some species of Portia are in the state of
reproductive isolation: in a laboratory, male P. africana copulated with female P. labiata but no eggs were laid; during all cases the female P. labiata twisted and lunged in an attempt to bite.
Some specimens found trapped in
amber were identified as related to Portia.