59. Galium triflorum Michaux, Fl. Bor.-Amer. 1: 80. 1803.
三花拉拉藤 san hua la la teng
Herbs, perennial, from slender rhizomes. Stems procumbent, ascending or erect, (15-)25-80(-125) cm tall, 4-angled, usually glabrous and smooth (rarely somewhat retrorsely aculeolate), hirtellous at nodes. Leaves in whorls of up to 6(-8), subsessile; blade drying papery, sometimes blackening, narrowly obovate to broadly (ob)lanceolate, (15-)20-35(-45) × (3-)6-12(-16) mm, ± glabrous but with appressed and antrorse microhairs adaxially and antrorse aculei along margins, base acute to cuneate, margin flat to thinly revolute, apex acute or rounded and abruptly mucronate; vein 1. Inflorescences terminal and axillary, with few- to several-flowered cymes at upper 2-4 stem nodes; axes glabrous and smooth; bracts few, narrowly elliptic to narrowly lanceolate, 2-5 mm; pedicels ca. 1.5 mm. Ovary obovoid, ca. 0.5 mm, densely hispidulous with undeveloped trichomes. Corolla white or greenish, rotate, 1.5-2 mm in diam., lobed for 3/4 or more, glabrous; lobes 4, triangular, acute. Mericarps ellipsoid, 1.5-2.5 mm, with dense uncinate trichomes ca. 1 mm, on pedicels elongating up to 10 mm. Fl. and fr. Jul-Sep.
Mountain forests; 1500-2000 m. Guizhou, Sichuan [Japan, Korea, Russia; Europe, North America].
Galium triflorum is obviously rare in China and does not occur in the Himalaya, as already suspected by Pobedimova et al. (Fl. URSS 23: 300-303. 1958). We have seen only two non-flowering specimens from SW China (Guizhou: Northern Qian [Guizhou] Team 907, PE; Sichuan: G. H. Yang 54472, PE), which apparently belong here. Indications for more northern provinces by W. C. Chen (FRPS 71(2): 232. 1999) have been listed here under G. trifloriforme (see there), a taxon not recognized as distinct by W. C. Chen (loc. cit.: 230). Both taxa urgently need more detailed study. Galium triflorum is very similar and morphologically subcontinuous with G. trifloriforme but differs from it by its more elongate inflorescences, mostly smooth stems, and particularly by its antrorsely aculeolate leaf margins. This latter character clearly places it into G. sect. Hylaea and into the close neighborhood of G. hoffmeisteri on the mainland, G. echinocarpum on Taiwan, and G. nipponicum in Japan.