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

1. Spermacoce alata Aublet, Hist. Pl. Guiane. 1: 55. 1775.

阔叶丰花草 kuo ye feng hua cao

Borreria alata (Aublet) Candolle; B. latifolia (Aublet) K. Schumann; Spermacoce latifolia Aublet

Herbs, perennial, erect to weak or clambering, sometimes fleshy, usually drying yellowish green, to 1 m; stems 4-angled, hispidulous or pilosulous and sometimes also hirsute, angles rounded to acute or very narrowly winged, wings entire. Leaves sessile to shortly petiolate; petiole to 4 mm, pilosulous or hirtellous; blade drying papery, elliptic or ovate-oblong, 12-75 × 6-40 mm, both surfaces sparsely to densely hispidulous to pilosulous, base cuneate to obtuse then long decurrent, apex acute or obtuse; secondary veins 5 or 6 pairs; stipules hirtellous to hispidulous, sheath 1-1.5 mm, with 5-9 bristles or narrowly triangular lobes 1-7 mm, ciliate. Inflorescences axillary and infrequently apparently also terminal, 6-15 mm in diam., few to several flowered, notably hispidulous to pilosulous; bracts filiform, 0.5-4 mm. Calyx moderately to densely hirtellous or pilosulous; hypanthium portion ellipsoid to obovoid, ca. 0.5 mm; lobes 4, lanceolate to elliptic or triangular, 1-2 mm. Corolla white tinged with blue to pale purple, funnelform, outside pilosulous to hirtellous; tube 2-3 mm, pubescent in throat; lobes triangular, 1-1.5 mm. Capsules ellipsoid to subglobose, 3-3.5 × 2-3 mm, densely hirtellous and often also hirsute on upper portion, densely puberulent to strigillose on sides, stiffly papery to cartilaginous, septicidal from apex with valves usually remaining connected at base, then both valves loculicidal through septum; seeds pale brown or dark brown, ellipsoid, ca. 2 × 1 mm, obtuse at both ends, shiny or dull, surface with numerous tiny pits not organized into rows. Fl. and fr. May-Nov.

Naturalized in disturbed ground and wastelands; below 100-800 m. Fujian, Guangdong, Hainan, Taiwan, Zhejiang [apparently native to the Neotropics but exact origin unknown; Antilles, Central America, North America (Mexico, Florida), widespread in tropical South America; naturalized in Africa, S and SE Asia, Australia, Madagascar, and perhaps North America].

The seeds of this species were illustrated by Chaw and Sivarajan (Bot. Bull. Acad. Sin., n.s., 30: 20, f. 25-27. 1989). This species is considered an invasive weed in the area of Guangzhou in Guangdong Province. W. C. Ko (in FRPS 71(2): 207. 1999) described the fruit as septicidal to base at maturity, septum not caducous, or septum of one valve caducous, but there seems to be a confusion here and this description is not accurate for this species.

The names Spermacoce alata and S. latifolia (or Borreria alata and B. latifolia) have been treated as distinct species by many authors but synonymized by others, variously under each of these names. There now appears to be only one species here, which takes the name S. alata. Aublet’s names were published simultaneously; although the names B. latifolia and S. latifolia have been more often used, these species were apparently first synonymized by Hara and Gould (Enum. Fl. Pl. Nepal, 199-209. 1979) under the name B. alata.


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