37. Rubia wallichiana Decaisne, Nouv. Mém. Acad. Roy. Sci. Bruxelles. 12: 61. 1837.
多花茜草 duo hua qian cao
Vines or climbing herbaceous perennials; stems to 3 m, 4-angled, glabrous or puberulent at nodes, smooth or sparsely aculeolate. Leaves in whorls of 4(-6); petiole 0.6-6 cm; blade drying thinly papery, lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate, 2-7 × 0.5-2.5 cm, glabrous and sparsely scaberulous, base rounded, truncate, or sometimes cordulate, margins denticulate-aculeolate to smooth, apex acuminate; principal veins 3(or 5), palmate. Inflorescences thyrsoid, paniculate, with terminal and axillary, many-flowered cymes; axes glabrous, smooth to sparsely scaberulous; bracts lanceolate to ligulate, 1-3.5 mm; pedicels 1-4 mm. Ovary ca. 0.5 mm, smooth. Corolla purplish red, greenish yellow, or white, rotate, fused basal part 0.1-0.5 mm; lobes lanceolate to lanceolate-triangular, 1.3-1.5 mm, acuminate, glabrous. Mericarp berry black, 3.5-4 mm in diam. Fl. Aug-Oct, fr. Aug-Dec.
Forests, forest margins, thickets, open fields, village fences; 300-2600 m. Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Hunan, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan [Bhutan, NE India, Nepal].
The above description and distribution data of Rubia wallichiana have been taken over from H. S. Lo (in FRPS 71(2): 315-316. 1999). There are hardly any differential characters relative to R. cordifolia s.s. aside from vague references to less prickly stems or differences in flower and fruit color (see key). Thus, this dubious taxon clearly belongs to R. ser. Cordifoliae. Deb and Malick (Bull. Bot. Surv. India 10(1): 1-16. 1968) do not even mention R. wallichiana. In Fl. Bhutan (2(2): 823-825. 1999) the name is used in a wide sense and evidently includes what is here treated as R. cordifolia, R. sylvatica, and possibly even R. argyi. The Kew Rubiaceae checklist (Govaerts et al., World Checkl. Rubiaceae; http://www.kew.org/wcsp/rubiaceae/; accessed on 15 Sep 2010) accepts R. wallichiana as a distinct species. We have hardly seen specimens from China that clearly correspond to R. wallichiana (and not to other taxa of R. cordifolia agg.). In view of all this, we regard R. wallichiana as a possible synonym of R. cordifolia s.s. but maintain it as a species in the present flora in order to stimulate its clarification.