Understanding spatial patterns of biodiversity is critical for conservation planning, particularly given rapid habitat loss and human-induced climatic change. Diversity and endemism are typically assessed by comparing species ranges across regions. However, investigation of patterns of species diversity alone misses out on the full richness of patterns that can be inferred using a phylogenetic approach. Here, using Australian Acacia as an example, we show that the application of phylogenetic methods, particularly two new measures, relative phylogenetic diversity and relative phylogenetic endemism, greatly enhances our knowledge of biodiversity across both space and time. We found that areas of high species richness and species endemism are not necessarily areas of high phylogenetic diversity or phylogenetic endemism. We propose a new method called categorical analysis of neo- and paleoendemism (CANAPE) that allows, for the first time, a clear, quantitative distinction between centres of neo- and paleo-endemism, useful to the conservation decision-making process.