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Genus Galium Family Rubiaceae

Description: Hermaphroditic perennial or annual herbs, variably rhizomatous. Stems and leaves with indumentum comprising hairs of scabrosites, often with two types of indumentum within a species.

Leaves and stipules in whorls of 4–9.

Flowers small, mainly in axillary cymes, bisexual, usually 4-merous. Calyx usually absent. Corolla rotate with a very short tube, often hairy, white or yellow. Stamens 4, inserted in corolla tube alternating with the lobes; anthers versatile. Ovary 2-locular, each with 1 ovule; style 2-lobed, each with a capitate stigma.

Fruit dry, often shallowly rugose when dry, breaking into 2 one-seeded mericarps.


Distribution and occurrence: World: 400 species, cosmopolitan. Australia: 27 species (21 species native), all States except N.T.

Galium migrans is a species from South Australia. All previous Galium migrans collections for NSW key to Galium leptogonium. The name Galium propinquum (New Zealand) was misapplied to Australian collections and is now included under Galium leiocarpum or Galium ciliare.

Text by T. A. James & W. K. Allen; updated Louisa Murray April 2012
Taxon concept: Flora of New South Wales, Vol. 3, pp 487-490

 Key to the species 
1Leaves in whorls of 7 or more2
Leaves mainly in whorls of 4,and sometimes up to 65
2Cymes usually of 10 flowers or more, corolla yellowish and somewhat purplish-red abaxiallyGalium divaricatum
Cymes of usually of 6 or less flowers, corolla white or cream
                       Back to 1
3Annual to 20 cm high; primary peduncle 1–2 mm long, bracts barely developed at the primary nodeGalium murale
Annual to 1 m high; primary peduncles 10 mm or more; bracts various ie. not developed, or 1 or more at the primary node
                       Back to 2
4Primary peduncle 10–70 mm long, bracts present at all nodes, usually in whorls of 2–6 at primary node; annual to 1 m highGalium aparine
Primary peduncle 10–30 mm long, bracts not developed or one or occasionally 2 bracts at the primary node
                       Back to 3
Galium tricornutum
5Ovary glabrous6
Ovary hairy
                       Back to 1
6Indumentum over whole plant sparcely covered with very coarse, plump hairs, often pigmented brownGalium liratum
Indumentum over whole plant either glabrous or with scabrosites or/and fine hairs
                       Back to 5
7Leaves and stipules of similar length below the inflorescences or throughout the branches8
Stipules usually 3/4 or less the length of the leaves throughout the branches
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8Inflorescence shorter than the whorls, often growing in semi arid and arid areas, often associated with Triodia sp.; fruit smoothGalium microlobum
Inforescence invariably exceeding the whorls; widespread habitat; fruit smooth but with "shoulders" appearing gelatinous
                       Back to 7
Galium ciliare
9Bracts generally a lot longer than peduncle; ovary 0.3–0.7 mm longGalium gaudichaudii
Bracts shorter than peduncle; ovary 0.2–0.5 mm long
                       Back to 7
10Corolla snow-white throughout or tinged with pink; mericarps globose, slightly rugoseGalium palustre
Corolla greenish cream or cream; mericarps not globose, definitely reticulately rugose
                       Back to 9
11Plant sparcely indumented with scabrosites, or less often hairs; cymes 1–6-floweredGalium binifolium
Plant densely indumented with slender hairs to 0.8 mm long; cymes 3–30-flowered
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Galium polyanthum
12Fruits and ovaries with pustules or short antrorsely curved spinulesGalium leptogonium
Fruits and ovaries with other hair types or ovaries hairy and fruits smooth
                       Back to 5
13Plants with stout rootstock and multistemmed robust stems; growing at altitude of 600 metres or more; (from the Bungonia Caves area and surrounds on the Southern Tablelands)Galium bungoniensis
Plants not robust; prostate, sprawling, and delicate; rhizomes present or not
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14Stem angles broadened; so broad that they obliterate the faces of the stems; (restricted to the Cooleman Caves district in the Southern Tablelands)Galium roddii
Stem angles only slightly broadened or slender so that the faces of the stems can be seen clearly and are not obliterated
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15Ovary c. 0.8 mm long; no long hairs evident near the nodesGalium spurium
Ovary less than 0.6 mm long, hairs of various types near nodes
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16Plant with a dense indumentum of slender hairs to 0.8 mm long; no scabrosites presentGalium polyanthum
Plant either with a dense or sparce indumentum of coarse hairs or with scabrosites; if hairs are slender then hairs less than 0.6 mm long
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17Indumentum sparcely hairly with hairs to 0.3 mm long or retrorse scabrosites; stipules similar in length to leavesGalium leiocarpum
Indumentum dense with slender or coarse hairs to 0.5 mm long or scabrosites; stiples 2/3 of leaf length below inflorescence and deceasing upwards to 1/2 the length of the leaves, or stipules absent
                       Back to 16
18Inflorescences 1–7 flowered; pedicels 2.5–10 mm long; fruit densely covered in more or less transparent, hooked hairsGalium australe
Inflorescences (1–)2–3 (–5) flowered; pedicels 0.5–1.5 mm long; fruit densely covered in short, usually whitish, curled hairs [G. curvihirtum usually occurs in Victoria - only known in NSW from one collection from the Northern Tablelands which is a probable introduction.]
                       Back to 17
Galium curvihirtum

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