5. Galium baldensiforme Handel-Mazzetti, Symb. Sin. 7: 1029. 1936.
玉龙拉拉藤 yu long la la teng
Herbs, perennial, tender, caespitose. Stems ascending, 3-12(-25) cm tall, 4-angled, glabrous and smooth or rarely slightly retrorsely aculeolate. Leaves in whorls of up to 5 or 6, sessile; blade drying papery and blackish, oblanceolate to narrowly obovate, 2-7 × 1-3 mm, mostly glabrous and smooth, but occasionally with straight hairs abaxially or marginally slightly retrorsely aculeolate, base cuneate, margin flat, apex acute and often shortly mucronate; vein 1. Inflorescences with cymes terminal and in axils of upper leaves, 1- or usually 2- or 3-flowered; peduncles up to 18 mm and pedicels 2-5 mm, glabrous and smooth, elongating during fruit development. Ovary subglobose, ca. 0.7 mm, densely covered by undeveloped trichomes. Corolla pale green, rotate, ca. 2 mm in diam., glabrous; lobes 4, triangular, acute. Mericarps ellipsoid, ca. 2 mm, with dense brownish yellow uncinate trichomes ca. 0.7 mm. Fl. Aug, fr. Aug-Oct.
● Rocky slopes, meadows, frost heave sites, river floodplains in mountains; 2800-4300 m. Qinghai, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan (Lijiang).
Galium baldensiforme belongs to the alpine subgroup (2) of the G. asperifolium complex within G. sect. Trachygalium s.l. (see under G. acutum and G. asperifolium). It has been widely misidentified with related taxa, e.g., with G. glabriusculum from which it differs in its more oblanceolate, thinner leaves, blackening when dried, and a slight tendency toward more indumentum.
Two collections from Xizang (H. Li 1978-07-22 and Y. T. Chang & Lang, Nie-La-Mu, 1966-06-25, both from PE) differ from typical Galium baldensiforme by purple flowers (reminiscent of G. rebae), ± straight whitish hairs on its (still young) ovaries, and scattered straight hairs on the upper and lower leaf sides (mainly midvein, but glabrous along leaf margins). After closer inspection and field studies, these populations may very well deserve species rank.
A specimen from Sichuan (Dege Co., anonymous collector 7029, PE) with stronger indumentum, subleathery, broadly lanceolate leaves with retrorsely aculeolate margins, and aristate corolla lobes apparently links Galium baldensiforme with G. asperifolium var. sikkimense.