31. Rubia sylvatica (Maximowicz) Nakai, J. Jap. Bot. 13: 783. 1937.
林生茜草 lin sheng qian cao
Rubia cordifolia Linnaeus var. sylvatica Maximowicz, Mém. Acad. Imp. Sci. St.-Pétersbourg Divers Savans 9 [Prim. Fl. Amur.]: 140. 1859.
Vines, herbaceous, perennial; stems to 3.5 m, quadrangular, glabrous, aculeolate on ribs. Leaves in whorls of 4-10(-12); petiole 2-11 cm, aculeolate; blade drying thinly membranous or papery, brown-black or blackish green, ovate to suborbicular, 3-11 × 2-9 cm, length/breadth index 1.2-1.5, both surfaces glabrous, scaberulous on lamina and aculeolate on principal veins, base cordulate to cordate, margins aculeolate, apex acuminate to caudate-cuspidate; principal veins 5 or 7, palmate. Inflorescences thyrsoid, with terminal and axillary, several- to many-flowered cymes; axes slender, glabrous, scaberulous; bracts lacking or linear to lanceolate-linear, 1-5 mm; pedicels 1-7 mm. Ovary ca. 0.8 mm, smooth. Corolla greenish, rotate to slightly patelliform, glabrous, fused basal part 0.4-0.6 mm; lobes triangular, 1-1.5 mm, acuminate. Mericarp berry black, 5-10 mm in diam., with pedicels elongating, to 15 mm. Fl. Jul-Aug, fr. Sep-Oct.
Moist forests or forest margins; 800-3500 m. Throughout N China, also in Sichuan [Russia].
Rubia sylvatica belongs to R. ser. Cordifoliae. It is apparently connected by transitional specimens with R. cordifolia s.s., R. ovatifolia, and other closely related species, but quite well separated from the similar R. argyi. See these taxa for additional comments and the key for differential characters.
A critical taxon is Rubia hexaphylla (Makino) Makino (1927) from Korea and Japan, of which we have not seen authentic specimens. From its description (Yamazaki, Fl. Japan 3a: 232. 1993) one could suspect it to be the same as R. sylvatica. If this is proven, the former name has priority. The Kew Rubiaceae checklist (Govaerts et al., World Checkl. Rubiaceae; http://www.kew.org/wcsp/rubiaceae/; accessed on 15 Sep 2010) treats R. sylvatica as a synonym of R. cordifolia subsp. cordifolia but maintains R. hexaphylla.