Description from Flora of China
Rubia nephrophylla Deb.
Plants herbaceous, perennial, erect or ± climbing, with rootstock and rhizomes; stems to 1.2 m, quadrangular, glabrous to strigose, with retrorsely aculeolate ribs or narrow wings. Leaves in whorls of 4(or 6), sometimes unequal; petiole 1-5 cm; blade drying papery to subleathery, reddish abaxially or brownish green, lanceolate, lanceolate-ovate, or oblong-ovate, 1.5-5 × 0.5-1.5 cm, length/breadth index 2.5-3.5, both surfaces glabrous, strigillose, or strigose and sparsely to densely scaberulous, base truncate to cordate, margin serrulate-aculeolate or ciliate, apex acute to acuminate; principal veins 3 or 5, palmate. Inflorescences thyrsoid, paniculate, with terminal and axillary, ± many-flowered cymes, axes strigillose to glabrous; aculeolate; bracts lanceolate, 1-5 mm; pedicels 1.5-4 mm. Ovary ca. 0.8 mm, subglabrous. Corolla purplish red or yellowish white, campanulate, glabrous to sparsely hirsutulous; fused part 0.8-1 mm; lobes ovate to lanceolate, 1-1.5 mm, strongly reflexed, caudate to shortly acuminate. Mericarp berry black at maturity, 4-5 mm in diam. Fl. Apr-Jun, fr. Jun-Sep.
The type specimens of Rubia podantha collected by Forrest from the Lichiang Range, Yunnan, are described in the protologue as semiscandent, with leaves lanceolate, base cordate, reddish below, and somewhat campanulate purplish flowers. This corresponds well with the figure in H. S. Lo (in FRPS 71(2): 317, t. 71, f. 7-12. 1999) and with a specimen collected from the type locality by Handel-Mazzetti in WU. Thus, R. podantha belongs to R. ser. Cordifoliae and appears related to other species with campanulate flowers, as R. alata or R. ovatifolia. It shares the reddish hue with the always scandent R. manjith, which has broader leaves and smaller, rotate flowers.
● Forest margins, sparse forests, grasslands; 700-3000 m. W Guangxi, W Sichuan, Yunnan.