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

12. Rubia haematantha Airy Shaw, Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew. 1931: 450. 1931.

红花茜草 hong hua qian cao

Herbs, perennial, erect to somewhat climbing, with woody rootstock; stems 0.5 m or more, clustered, quadrangular, angles ± retrorsely aculeolate. Leaves in whorls of up to 6-8(-10), narrowly linear, 20-50 × 0.5-1 mm, base acute, margins revolute and antrorsely aculeolate, otherwise glabrous and smooth, single vein forming a thick midrib ca. 1/2 of leaf breadth, apex acute, with hyaline point. Inflorescence thyrsoid, with lax, few-flowered axillary and terminal cymes; bracts filiform; pedicels ca. 5 mm. Ovary ca. 0.5 mm, glabrous. Corolla dark red (perhaps sometimes ?white), rotate, 3-4 mm in diam., glabrous; lobes triangular, 3-veined, abruptly caudate with acumen ca. 1 mm. Mericarp berry black, 3-4 mm in diam. Fl. summer-early autumn, fr. late autumn-early winter.

● Dry and rocky meadows; 3000-3800 m. Sichuan, NW Yunnan.

Together with Rubia angustissima Wallich ex G. Don and R. charifolia Wallich ex G. Don from the Himalaya, both with greenish-yellowish flowers, the dark-red flowering R. haematantha forms an aberrant, closely related species assembly, provisionally called R. angustissima group. It occurs from the W Himalaya (Kashmir) to Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan, and SW China. The group shares retrorsely aculeate stems, linear to filiform leaves in whorls of up to 8(-10), and caudate corolla lobes. Species delimitation within this group is still provisional. Whereas Deb and Malick (Bull. Bot. Surv. India 10(1): 5. 1968) unite R. angustissima and R. charifolia ("R. charaefolia"), the two taxa are maintained by Long (Fl. Bhutan 2(2): 823-825. 1999). The reliability of the flower color as differential character of R. haematantha also needs further study. If only one species is accepted, its name would have to be R. angustissima.


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