9. Galium bungei Steudel, Nomencl. Bot., ed. 2. 1: 657. 1840.
四叶葎 si ye lü
Herbs, perennial, 5-50 cm tall, erect from tender reddish rootstock or filiform rhizome. Stems often caespitose, 4-angled, unbranched or little branched, smooth, glabrous and smooth or pilosulous to pilose, rarely retrorsely aculeolate, at nodes ± hispidulous. Leaves in whorls of 4, subsessile; blade drying papery, ovate-oblong, ovate-lanceolate, lanceolate-oblong, elliptic-oblong, or narrowly oblanceolate, (6-)8-20(-34) × (2-)3-7(-10) mm, length/breadth index usually 3-5, glabrous and sometimes antrorsely aculeolate on midrib and near margins, to pilosulous or pilose throughout, lower side sometimes glandular-punctate or striate, base cuneate, apex acute or slightly obtuse; 1 principal vein, 2 lateral veins usually inconspicuous. Inflorescences terminal and/or axillary, cymose to paniculate, congested to lax, cymes few to several flowered, 1-5 cm; peduncles glabrous, smooth; bracts none or few, spatulate to narrowly elliptic, 1-5 mm; pedicels (1-)2-4(-7) mm. Ovary subglobose to ellipsoid, laterally somewhat flattened, 0.4-0.8 mm, glabrous to strigillose, smooth to tuberculate. Corolla yellowish green or white, rotate, 1.5-2.5 mm in diam., glabrescent; lobes 4, ovate or oblong, acute to acuminate. Mericarps ellipsoid, 1-2 mm, tuberculate, aculeolate or with appressed and curved to spreading and uncinate trichomes ca. 0.3 mm, rarely glabrous and smooth. Fl. Apr-Sep, fr. May-Jan.
Forests, thickets, or meadows on mountains, hills, open fields, farmlands, ditch sides, riversides and beaches, streamsides; near sea level to 3600 m. Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Liaoning, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Yunnan, Zhejiang [Japan, Korea].
Galium bungei designates a group of tender perennial herbs from G. sect. Platygalium, widespread and common at low to middle elevations throughout China. Galium bungei is also used medicinally there. The group is very variable with respect to habit and inflorescence, as well as stem, leaf, and fruit indumentum (the latter from tuberculate to spreading hooked trichomes). The small and inconspicuous flowers suggest autogamous reproduction. All this has caused the recognition of several "species." In view of the gradual nature of this variation and the partly simple genetic basis of the underlying differences, we give them less taxonomic weight, follow Cufodontis (Oesterr. Bot. Z. 89: 219-223. 1940) and the Kew Rubiaceae checklist (Govaerts et al., World Checkl. Rubiaceae; http://www.kew.org/wcsp/rubiaceae/; accessed on 15 Sep 2010), and include them all as synonyms under G. bungei s.l. Only the closely related G. salwinense, endemic in Sichuan and Yunnan, is maintained on the basis of its elongated and slender pedicels and the constant hooked fruit trichomes.
Forms of Galium bungei with broader leaves in Sichuan (e.g., var. punduanoides) develop, in addition to the principal vein, stronger side veins somewhat approaching the larger G. yunnanense, typically with 3-veined leaves, which occurs in the same area.
To bring some schematic order into the extreme variation of a broadly circumscribed Galium bungei s.l., Cufodontis (loc. cit.: 221-222) created six varieties, without giving much weight to differences in fruit surface. These varieties were taken up by W. C. Chen in FRPS (71(2): 247-250. 1999) and are also presented here. In contrast to this approach, Yamazaki (J. Jap. Bot. 61: 51. 1991; Fl. Japan 3a: 236-237. 1993) recognized several of these varieties as species for the Flora of Japan: G. pogonanthum (corresponding to G. bungei var. setuliflorum), separated by having appressed upcurved short hairs on its fruit rather than spreading hooked trichomes as G. bungei s.s.; G. gracilens (corresponding to G. bungei var. bungei), characterized by short appressed punctate fruit hairs and slender inflorescences; and G. trachyspermum (corresponding to G. bungei var. trachyspermum), with short appressed hooked fruit hairs and more condensed inflorescences. For each of these segregate species Yamazaki (loc. cit. 1991; loc. cit. 1993) also created several new additional varieties not considered here. For their treatment of Taiwanese members of G. bungei s.l. Yang and Li (Bull. Natl. Mus. Nat. Sci., Taichung 11: 105-106. 1998; Fl. Taiwan, ed. 2, 4: 255-256. 1998) accepted two species: G. gracilens with tuberculate fruit and G. fukuyamae with appressed uncinate fruit hairs. Below, we present the schematic infraspecific classification of W. C. Chen in FRPS. Descriptions are sketchy due to the limited material available. Nevertheless, this may help as a reference and basis for urgently needed future studies on this polymorphic and phylogenetically important group.