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

17. Rubia manjith Roxburgh ex Fleming, Asiat. Res. 11: 177. 1810.

梵茜草 fan qian cao

Rubia cordifolia Linnaeus var. khasiana Watt; R. cordifolia var. munjista (Roxburgh) Miquel; R. munjista Roxburgh.

Vines, herbaceous, drying with reddish cast; stems to 3 m, quadrangular, glabrous, retrorsely aculeolate to smooth, with red pith. Leaves in whorls of 4, equal or unequal; petiole 0.8-4 cm, sparsely aculeolate; blade drying papery, mostly greenish adaxially and purplish red abaxially, oblong-lanceolate, ovate-lanceolate, or ovate, (2.5-)4-6(-8.5) × (0.8-)1.8-2.5(-4) cm, length/breadth index 2-3, both surfaces glabrous and scaberulous, base rounded to cordate, margin flat to thinly revolute, aculeolate, apex long acuminate or caudate; principal veins (3 or)5(or 7), palmate. Inflorescences thyrsoid, paniculate, with terminal and axillary, many-flowered and 2.5-10 cm long cymes; axes glabrous and smooth to sparsely aculeolate; bracteoles elliptic-oblong or lanceolate, 0.5-2 mm; pedicels 1.5-3.5 mm. Ovary ca. 0.5 mm, smooth. Corolla red, purplish red, or orange, rotate, glabrous, fused basal part 0.5-0.6 mm; lobes 5, lanceolate to triangular, 1.2-1.5 cm, acuminate. Mericarp berry dark red, 3.5-5 mm in diam. Fl. Jul-Aug, fr. Oct.

Broad-leaved forests, Pinus forests and thickets; 700-3600 m. Qinghai, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan [Bhutan, India, Nepal].

Rubia manjith belongs to R. ser. Cordifoliae. Among the taxa with small rotate flowers (R. cordifolia agg.) it is mainly characterized by its conspicuous reddish cast, particularly on lower leaf sides and flowers (see additional comments under R. cordifolia). A similar cast also appears in the otherwise quite different R. podantha, a taxon with campanulate flowers.

Deb and Malick (Bull. Bot. Surv. India 10(1): 6-8. 1968), after a lengthy discussion, treated Rubia manjith ("R. munjista") as a synonym of R. cordifolia only and identified it with R. cordifolia var. khasiana. In contrast, Long (Fl. Bhutan 2(2): 823-825. 1999) distinguished R. manjith from R. cordifolia largely by its red cast, both alive and dried, but agreed with the inclusion of R. cordifolia var. khasiana as a synonym. The same was maintained by H. S. Lo (in FRPS 71(2): 314. 1999), who added "R. cordifolia f. rubra Kitamura" as a synonym of R. manjith and qualified it as "nom. non rite publ." Both Deb and Malick (loc. cit.) and Long (loc. cit.) mention the economic and historical importance of the taxon as a source of an excellent red dye.


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