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Family Rubiaceae

Synonyms: Henriqueziaceae APNI*
Dialypetalanthaceae APNI*

Description: Trees, shrubs or herbs, often with angular stems.

Leaves opposite or in whorls of 3 or 4, simple, margins mostly entire; stipules interpetiolar, free or fused, sometimes leaf-like and giving the appearance of whorled leaves.

Inflorescence a thyrse or dichasium, rarely flowers fused into a compound head or a single, terminal flower. Flowers usually actinomorphic, bisexual or unisexual and then plants monoecious or dioecious, mostly 4- or 5-merous. Calyx 3–6-lobed, often rudimentary or absent. Corolla mostly tubular and fused with the filaments at least at base, usually 3–5-lobed, sometimes ± 2-lipped. Stamens 4 or 5, alternate with petals; anthers 2-locular, dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Ovary inferior, 1- or more-locular; ovules 1–many per loculus; style undivided or bifid.

Fruit a capsule, drupe or schizocarp, individual fruit often fused into a compound fruit.

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 563 genera, c. 10,900 species, chiefly tropical & subtropical regions. Australia: 45 genera, 200 species, all States. The genus Coffea is not recorded as naturalised on the mainland; only naturalised for Lord Howe Island.

External links:
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Rubiaceae, Order: Gentianales)

Key based on Morley & Toelken (1983); updated Louisa Murray Oct 2012 and K.L. Gibbons, Oct 2019.

Text by Contributors listed under genus headings
Taxon concept:

 Key to the genera 
1Herbs mostly less than 1 m high, or if shrubby then with an inflorescence of globose compound heads2
Woody plants, usually more than 1 m high16
2Leaves and stipules similar, giving the appearance of whorled leaves3
Leaves and stipules dissimilar, latter much smaller
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3Flowers in heads; calyx present, lobedSherardia
Flowers separate; calyx usually absent or present and then not lobed
                       Back to 2
4Corolla rotate, tube very short; fruit of 2 dry 1-seeded mericarps, falling separately at maturityGalium
Corolla funnel-shaped with a distinct tube; fruit fleshy, 2-lobed, indehiscent
                       Back to 3
5Flowers united into simple or compound heads by fusion of inferior ovaries6
Flowers not united into heads by fusion of ovaries
                       Back to 2
6Flowers joined in 2- or 3-flowered heads, 5–11 heads on umbellate stalksPomax
Flowers joined in 2–7-flowered heads, several heads together in a compound globose head
                       Back to 5
7Inflorescences terminal, or if axillary then leafy bracts surrounding inflorescence8
Inflorescences axillary; leafy bracts never present
                       Back to 5
8Flowers solitary9
Flowers few to many in cymes or heads
                       Back to 7
9Calyx lobes absent; corolla short-campanulateNertera
Calyx lobes well-developed; corolla tubular to funnel-form or trumpet-shaped
                       Back to 8
10Flowers in heads or clusters, surrounded by leafy bracts11
Flowers in cymes, not surrounded by leafy bracts
                       Back to 8
11Plants erect; fruit of only 2, 1-seeded carpels, crowned by 2–4 persistent, erect calyx lobesSpermacoce
Plants prostrate; fruit separating into 3 or 4 one-seeded mericarps, crowned by 4–6 eventually falling, radiating calyx lobes
                       Back to 10
12Flowers bisexual; cymes regular; ovary 2-locular; fruit dryKnoxia
Flowers unisexual and plants dioecious; cymes arranged in compound dichasia; ovary 1-locular; fruit fleshy
                       Back to 10
13Non-succulent herbs of variable habit with stems to 40 cm long; stipules with long ciliaDiodia
Succulent prostrate herbs with stems to 20 cm long; stipules not as above
                       Back to 7
14Leaves less than 4 mm long; flowers sessileDentella
Leaves mostly more than 4 mm long; flowers pedicellate
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15Corolla with a short or long tube, valvate, not persistent in fruit; pedicels to 20 mm longOldenlandia
Corolla rotate, persistent in fruit; pedicels to 6 mm long
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16Climbing plants17
Shrubs or trees
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17Fruits a drupe (fleshy) with 1-seeded pyrene18
Fruits a schizocarp (drupe-like but dry)
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18Flowers fused, drupe with one seedGynochthodes
Flowers free, drupe with 4 seeds
                       Back to 17
19Ovaries with 1–5 per ovules per loculus21
Ovaries with at least 6 ovules per loculus
                       Back to 16
20Plant usually with spines, stipules interpetiolar, small, falling and leaving scars at nodesRandia
Plant without spines, stipules interpetiolar, united into a sheath enclosing the terminal bud
                       Back to 19
21Stipules fused, at least at base22
Stipules free
                       Back to 19
22Style exserted from corolla tube, the exserted part much longer than corolla lobesPavetta
Style slightly exserted from corolla tube, the exserted part shorter than or as long as corolla lobes
                       Back to 21
23Flowers in dense, axillary, 2–10 flowered subsessile clustersCoffea
Flowers in terminal corymbs or panicles
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24Corolla lobes valvate in bud25
Corolla lobes contorted and/or imbricate
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25Flowers along leafy branchlets26
Flowers along branches behind leaves or on axillary flower-bearing short shoots
                       Back to 24
26Flowers terminal or terminal and axillary in upper leaf axils, usually united into terminal inflorescences; ovules attached at base of ovaryPsychotria
Flowers axillary, in clusters or cymes, rarely solitary; ovules attached at or near top of ovary
                       Back to 25
27Stigma oblongoid, concave at base; style exceeding the corolla tube; inflorescences usually of branched pedunculate cymesPsydrax
Stigma capitate or ovoid, convex at the base; style as long or slightly exceeding the corolla tube; inflorescences of sessile or short-peduncled umbelliform cymes
                       Back to 26
28Stigma ovoid, deeply 2-lobed; cymes pedunculate, 1–3-flowered; plants usually intricately and much branched; leaves nerveless or obscurely nervedEveristia
Stigma capitate, obscurely 2-lobed, cymes sessile or pedunculate, 1–12-flowered; plants few-branched; leaves conspicuously nerved
                       Back to 27
29Flowers unisexual in umbels on slender axillary pedunclesHodgkinsonia
Flowers bisexual in clusters or dense cymes
                       Back to 24

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