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FOC | Family List | FOC Vol. 19 | Linnaeaceae

2. Abelia R. Brown in Abel, Narr. J. China. App. B, 376. 1818.

糯米条属 nuo mi tiao shu

Shrubs, deciduous or semi-evergreen. Winter buds exposed, ovoid-orbicular, small, with several pairs of scales. Leaves opposite, rarely 3- or 4-whorled, shortly petiolate with an interpetiolar line, estipulate. Leaf margin entire to dentate or crenate-serrate. Flowers axillary, paniculate, single or paired (flowers opening consecutively); paired flowers with 6 bracts (Abelia chinensis), single flowers with 4 bracts (A. uniflora and A. forrestii) at base of ovaries; bracts small and not accrescent. Sepals 2-5, spreading, narrowly oblong, elliptic, persistent. Corolla 5-lobed, funnelform or bilabiate, white, yellow, pink, or red. Corolla tube gibbous ventrally at base containing a nectary of dense glandular hairs (nectaria trichomalia). Stamens didynamous, adnate to corolla tube, included or exserted; anthers introrse. Ovary narrowly oblong, 3-locular, 2 locules with 2 series of sterile ovules, 1 locule with a single fertile ovule; style filiform; stigmas capitate, white and papillose. Fruit an oblong, leathery achene, crowned with persistent sepals. Seed subterete, testa membranous; endosperm fleshy.

Five species (including one cultivated hybrid): China, Japan; five species (three endemic, one cultivated hybrid) in China.

Species Complex

3-4. Abelia uniflora species complex

Shrubs deciduous, to 4 m tall. Branches pubescent, occa­sionally glabrous. Leaves highly variable in shape and size, ovate, orbicular, or lanceolate, 1-8 × 0.5-3.5 cm, abaxially densely white pubescent at base of midvein and lateral veins, adaxially sparsely pubescent, base cuneate, margin subentire or remotely serrate, apex obtuse to acuminate. Flowers single and axillary, sometimes slightly paniculate. Calyx of 2 oblong to elliptic sepals, 10-15 mm, ca. 1/3 as long as corolla tube. Co­rolla white to purplish pink, bilabiate, 25-50 mm, gibbous at base of tube, 5-lobed, outside pubescent, inside villous on lip; upper lip 2-lobed; lower lip 3-lobed, bearded and with reticu­late orange markings. Stamens 4, didynamous; filaments par­tially adnate to corolla tube. Ovary pubescent, with 4 ovate to lanceolate bracts at base; style ca. as long as corolla tube; stigmas capitate. Achene 6-15 mm, pubescent, crowned with 2 persistent and slightly enlarged sepals. Fl. Apr-Jun, fr. Aug-Oct.

● Thickets, forests; 200-2000 m. Fujian, Gansu, Guangxi, Gui­zhou, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan. This species shows variation in leaf and sepal shape, ovary length, and corolla size. In the past, many species have been recognized as separate. A specimen collected in Guizhou (Simmons et al. 288) has been identified to show introgression from Abelia chinensis. This phe­nomenon, as well as possible polyploidy, renders the infraspecific clas­sification of A. uniflora very unreliable.

1 Flowers paired, opening consecutively; paired ovaries with 6 bracts at base; sepals 5; corolla funnelform, 10-12 mm; stamens and style conspicuously exserted from corolla tube.   1 A. chinensis
+ Flowers solitary; ovary with 4 bracts at base; sepals 2-5; corolla bilabiate (funnelform to slightly bilabiate in A. ×grandiflora), 20-50 mm; stamens and style not conspicuously exserted from corolla tube   (2)
2 (1) Corolla ca. 20 mm; plants cultivated.   5 A. ×grandiflora
+ Corolla 25-50 mm; plants wild   (3)
3 (3) Sepals usually 2; corolla lower lip with reticulate orange markings.  

3-4. A. uniflora species complex

+ Sepals usually 5; corolla lower lip without any markings.   2 A. forrestii

Lower Taxa


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