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FOC | Family List | FOC Vol. 19 | Rubiaceae | Rubia

34. Rubia tinctorum Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 109. 1753.

染色茜草 ran se qian cao

Rubia iberica (Fischer ex Candolle) K. Koch; R. tinctorum var. iberica Fischer ex Candolle.

Herbs, sprawling to climbing, perennial, with extensive stout, woody, and red rhizomes; stems to 1-2.5 m, often fascicled, quadrangular with ± sharp angles, somewhat retrorsely aculeolate or glabrous. Leaves in whorls of 4-6, shortly petiolate to subsessile; blade drying papery to subleathery, lanceolate, lanceolate-oblong, or elliptic-oblong, 3-10 × 0.5-3.5 cm, glabrous or mostly along lower midrib and margins retrorsely aculeolate, base acute, apex acute; lateral veins 3 or 4 pairs, pinnate. Inflorescences thyrsoid, leaflike and many-flowered cymes terminal and axillary from upper stem nodes; axes ± retrorsely aculeolate; peduncles up to 50 mm with bracts narrowly elliptic, 2-5 mm; pedicels (0.75-)1.5-8(-12) mm. Ovary ca. 0.8 mm, glabrous. Corolla yellow to greenish yellow, rotate-funnelform, glabrous; tube ca. 1 mm; limb 3-4.5 mm in diam.; lobes lanceolate, ca. 1 mm, shortly acuminate. Anthers large, 0.5-0.6(-0.8) mm, straight. Mericarp berry black, 3.5-4 × 4-4.5 mm. Fl. Jun-Aug, fr. Jul-Sep.

Rather dry open ground; 400-2300 m. Xinjiang [Afghanistan, NW India, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan; SW Asia (Iran, Turkey); widely cultivated and escaped or weedy from Europe and the Mediterranean throughout the world].

Rubia tinctorum is the madder of commerce, cultivated for the dye derived from its rhizomes and roots, and still used in textiles and fine paints. Mainly because of its relatively large and straight anthers, this and a few related taxa from C Asia have been placed into R. sect. Meganthera by Pojarkova (Fl. URSS 23: 392-397. 1958). As R. tinctorum is the type species of the genus, this section has to be called R. sect. Rubia (Ehrendorfer et al., Fl. Iranica 176: 54. 2005).


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