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Description from Flora of China

Trees or shrubs, sometimes dioecious, unarmed. Raphides present. Leaves opposite, often distichous on horizontal branches, apparently without domatia, with tertiary venation often regularly rectangular-areolate or clathrate and quaternary venation not visible; stipules persistent or caducous, interpetiolar, narrowly triangular to linear [or sometimes reduced], acute. Inflorescences axillary, capitate to cymose or often umbelliform, few to several flowered, pedunculate or sessile, bracteate or bracts reduced. Flowers pedicellate and ebracteate, bisexual and apparently monomorphic or sometimes unisexual. Calyx limb cupular, (4 or)5(-7)-toothed. Corolla white to yellow, rotate, shortly tubular, or funnelform, inside villous in throat, leathery; lobes (4 or)5(-7), valvate in bud. Stamens (4 or)5(-7), inserted in corolla throat, included or exserted; filaments short; anthers apparently dorsifixed. Ovary (4 or)5(-7)-celled, ovules numerous in each cell on axile placentas attached at inner corner of cell; style often swollen at base; stigmas 3-8-lobed, exserted. Fruit white, orange, yellow, or red, baccate, fleshy, ellipsoid to subglobose, with calyx limb persistent; seeds numerous, small, subglobose; testa crustaceous, areolate; embryo clavate.

Although this genus is sometimes said to range into Africa, more recently the African species formerly included in Urophyllum have all been moved to other genera (Lebrun & Stork, Énum. Pl. Fleurs Afr. Trop. 1-249. 1997). This genus does not seem well known, apart from a consideration of its delimitation in the Philippines by Bremekamp (J. Arnold Arbor. 21: 32-41. 1940). Puff et al. (Rubiaceae of Thailand, 134. 2005) found Urophyllum to be wholly dioecious in Thailand and noted that the staminate plants sometimes bear what they call "sterile pseudo-fruit consisting of [a] fleshy cuplike calyx and enlarged, empty ovaries [sic]." The reproductive biology of the Chinese species was not noted by H. S. Lo (in FRPS 71(1): 326-329. 1999).

About 150 species: widespread in tropical Asia; three species (two endemic) in China.

(Authors: Chen Tao (陈涛); Charlotte M. Taylor)

Lower Taxa


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Flora of China  
  • Urophyllum (PDF)
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