Two subspecies have been described (Clements 2007).
Pharomachrus fulgidus fulgidus (Gould 1838) is found in the mountains of northern Venezuela.Pharomachrus fulgidus festatus (Bangs 1899) ranges through the Santa Marta mountains of northeast Colombia.
The upper tail coverts of P. f. festatus project further beyond the retrices than do those of P. f. fulgidus (32–39 mm vs. 16–19 mm) (Todd 1943; Johnsgard 2000). Wetmore (1939) described a ♂ specimen from Venezuela with a covert projection of 10 mm. Bangs (1899) noted that the tail coverts of P. f. festatus extend 48 mm beyond the retrices in the type ♂.
In addition to averaging slightly larger in wing measurements and having somewhat longer cheek plumes, P. f. festatus has tail-covert plumes that extend more than 25 mm beyond the retrices, whereas in P. f. fulgidus the plumes project only slightly beyond the retrices (Peters 1929; Johnsgard 2000).
Recent research on the phylogenetic relationships of the Trogonidae has not included Pharomachrus fulgidas (Espinosa de los Monteros 1998).
[insert tree graph here: Source: Boyd(2017). Used with permission of the author. http://jboyd.net/Taxo/List10a.html#trogonidae.]
The fossil record for trogons, although sparse, places the oldest identifiable trogons in the Eocene (Kristoffersen, 2002), Oligocene (Olson, 1976; Mayr, 1999), and Miocene of Europe (Milne-Edwards, 1869), consistent with an Old World origin for the family, but hardly conclusive given the conflict with the phylogenetic results. The oldest New World trogon fossils date back only to the Pleistocene (Brodkorb, 1971). An origin and early diversification of modern trogons in the New World, as supported by most of the DIVA scenarios, combined with an extensive and old fossil record in Europe, indicate that trogon biogeographical history may have been complex.
It is unknown if most of the fossil trogons represent part of the crown clade, ancestors of the crown clade, or an independent lineage that is now extinct. A single fossil from the Oligocene of France (c. 33 Mya) is hypothesized to be the sister taxon of the extant trogons (Mayr, 1999). The fossil predates the inferred dispersal event of modern trogons into the Old World, and is consistent with a sister clade that subsequently went extinct. The phylogenetic placement of this Old World fossil supports a complex biogeographical history of the group, involving multiple New World-Old World disjunctions (Mayr 2005).