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Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Rubiaceae (from the genus Rubia, signifying red, from the color of the roots of some species). Madder Family. Fig. 55. Trees, shrubs or herbs: leaves opposite or whorled, simple, usually entire: flowers bisexual, rarely unisexual, regular, rarely slightly irregular; calyx 2-6-cleft, or 0; corolla gamopetalous, 4-6-lobed, mostly valvate; stamens4-6, epipetalous; ovary inferior, 1 to many-, commonly 2-, celled; ovules 1 to many in each cell; style 1; stigma 1, capitate or several-branched: fruit a capsule, berry, or drupe.

Rubiaceae is a family of 343 genera and about 4,500 species, mainly tropical; about 34 species reach the northeastern United States. The family is closely related to the Caprifoliaceae, but usually has stipules or whorled leaves; it is also related to the Cornaceae, Valerianceae, Compositae, and the like.

A number of tropical Rubiaceae are myrmecophilous, i.e., provide a dwelling-place for protective ants. The whorled leaves of some species have probably been developed from stipules.

This is an important economic family. Coffea arabica (Abyssinia coffee) is generally cultivated in the tropics and used elsewhere as a beverage. Cinchona Ledgeriana and C. succirubra of the Andes furnish quinine. Uragoga (Caphaelis) Ipecacuanha of Brazil is the source of the emetic ipecac. Cephalanthus of North America, and several species of Galium have been used in medicine. Rubia tinctoria (Mediterranean) furnishes the red dye, madder. Roots of Asperula and some species of Galium yield red dyes. Morinda citrifolia (tropics) yields a yellow dye, morindin. Ourouparia Gambir (Malay) yields the dye known as catecu, gambir, or terra japonica. The foliage of Asperula odorata has the fragrance of sweet grass, and is used for a similar purpose, and for flavoring wines. Galium triflorum has a similar odor. Galium verum, the yellow bedstraw (Europe) contains a milk-curdling ferment, hence the name, “galium;” also formerly given to women to increase lactation. Berries of Mitchella contain a saponin-like substance. The fruits of Vangueria edulis and several other species of Rubiaceae are edible. The wood of many species is valuable.

Forty to 50 genera and a great many species are in cultivation in N. America, mostly in the greenhouse and in tropical horticulture. Among these are Indian Mulberry (Morinda); Cape Jasmine (Gardenia); Bluets (Houstonia); Manettia Vine (Manettia); Madder (Rubia); Buttonbush (Cephalanthus, hardy); Bedstraw or Cleavers (Galium); Coffee (Coffea); Cinchona (Cinchona); and Partridge Berry (Mitchella).


The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.

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Lady's Bedstraw (Galium verum)
Lady's Bedstraw (Galium verum)
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For a full list, see: List of Rubiaceae genera

Egyptian Starcluster Pentas lanceolata
File:Luculia gratissima.png
White Luculia gratissima

Rubiaceae is a family of flowering plants, variously called the madder, bedstraw, or coffee family. Other common plants included here are gardenia, cinchona, sweet woodruff, partridgeberry, gambier, ixora, and noni. A number of traditionally accepted families (Dialypetalanthaceae, Henriqueziaceae, Naucleaceae, and Theligonaceae) are now incorporated within the Rubiaceae following genetic research by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. As now circumscribed, there are about 600 genera and more than 10,000 species in the Rubiaceae.


The genera are distributed into tribes, and these placed in one of three recognized subfamilies:

  • Rubioideae
    • Anthospermeae
    • Argostemmateae
    • Coussareeae
    • Craterispermeae
    • Danaideae
    • Gaertnereae
    • Lasiantheae
    • Morindeae
    • Ophiorrhizeae
    • Paederieae
    • Perameae
    • Psychotrieae
    • Rubieae
    • Sabiceeae
    • Schradereae
    • Spermacoceae
    • Theligoneae
    • Urophylleae
    • Virectarieae
  • Cinchonoideae
    • Calycophylleae
    • Catesbaeeae
    • Naucleeae
    • Chiococceae
    • Cinchoneae
    • Condamineeae
    • Coptosapelteae
    • Guettardeae
    • Hamelieae
    • Hillieae
    • Isertieae
    • Mussaendeae
    • Rondeletieae
    • Simireae
    • Exostema group
  • Ixoroideae
    • Alberteae
    • Coffeeae
    • Cremasporeae
    • Gardenieae
    • Hippotideae
    • Ixoreae
    • Octotropideae
    • Pavetteae
    • Retiniphylleae
    • Sipaneeae
    • Vanguerieae


The following genera are listed by Watson and Dallwitz (Delta):

Rubiaceae sensu stricto:

In Watson and Dallwitz's Henriqueziaceae:

In Watson and Dallwitz's Naucleaceae:

References and external links


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