Here, we report the karyotypes and mean haploid idiograms of the ten Asian Corchorus species (2n = 2x = 14). Chromosomes were small, with a mean chromosome length of 2.30 μm. The largest chromosome was recorded in C. pseudo-olitorius (3.50 μm) and the shortest in C. pseudocapsularis (1.60 μm). The karyotypes of the two cultivated species (C. capsularis and C. olitorius) and C. pseudo-olitorius were the most diverse and specialized, whereas those of C. depressus and C. trilocularis were the least diverse. C. fascicularis had the most asymmetrical and C. urticifolius the most symmetrical karyotypes. An increase in genome size was accompanied by increasing karyotype diversity in terms of morphologically distinct chromosome types and interchromosomal asymmetry, with uneven distribution of additional DNA throughout the karyotype. A positive correlation between interchromosomal asymmetry and dispersion index suggested that size differences between chromosomes were mainly associated with karyotype asymmetry. Karyotypes of the Corchorus species became progressively asymmetrical in the course of evolution. Relationships among the ten Corchorus species were defined by using a neighbor-joining tree inferred from inter-simple sequence repeat data. C. fascicularis and C. pseudocapsularis, with shorter karyotypes and smaller genomes, were closely related to C. pseudo-olitorius and C. capsularis, respectively, which were characterized by relatively longer karyotypes and larger genomes. However, the two cultivated species with different levels of interchromosomal asymmetries, dispersion indices and genome sizes were distantly related. Taking this molecular evidence into consideration, we have discussed chromosomal evolution in relation to karyological data including genome size. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.