Rubiaceae

From Rainforest Plants
Revision as of 19:41, 21 October 2009 by Afriberg (talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search
How to Examine a PlantPlant Family ListKey to Plant FamiliesTop Ten ListsThe MatrixNavigation Bar.jpg
< < Previous family: Polygalaceae
Next family: Rutaceae > >

Coffee Family

Psychotria acuminata Benth., a shrub in the Rubiaceae. Note the interpetiolar stipules (here with two ridges) and the looping venation of the leaves. Un arbusto. Note las estípulas interpeciolares (aquí con dos puntos) y las venas que se unen cerca de las márgenes.


Description: One of the largest and most important families in the Neotropics. Rubiaceae are easy to recognize due to their always simple, opposite, and entire leaves and interpetiolar stipules (the stipules join the petiole bases and bridge the gap between them). Rubiaceae stipules have a wide variety of forms, and are often important characters for vegetative identification of the plants. Gentry (1993, p. 722) has a useful illustration of the stipules of various genera. Most Rubiaceae have decussate leaves (i.e., opposite leaves in two ranks 90° apart).

Rubiaceae can be superficially confused with Acanthaceae, but Acanthaceae tend to have serrate leaves (never found in Rubiaceae) and the stems of Acanthaceae tend to be swollen above the nodes. Faramea, a genus of shrubs and small trees, can look like Clusiaceae due to their distichous leaves and sometimes closely parallel secondary venation, but they lack latex. On close examination, the leaves of Faramea are not truly distichous: the stems are twisted to bring the typically decussate Rubiaceae leaves into one plane.

Economic uses: Coffee (Coffea arabica) is the most important cash crop in the Rubiaceae. A number of other genera in the family are grown as ornamentals, and some with high alkaloid levels are being investigated for pharmaceuticals.


Descripción: Una familia diversa muy importante en las zonas neotropicales. Es muy fácil reconocer a las Rubiaceas: siempre tienen hojas simples, opuestas, y enteras, con estípulas interpeciolares (las estípulas se unen con las bases de los pecíolos formando una conexión entre ellos). Las estípulas de las Rubiaceas tienen una gran variedad de formas, y frecuentemente son importantes para identificar las plantas cuando no presentan partes reproductivos. Gentry (1993, p. 722) provee un dibujo muy útil de las estípulas de muchos géneros de las Rubiaceas. La mayoría de las Rubiaceas tienen hojas decusadas (es decir, cada par de hojas está a 90° del anterior).

Las Rubiaceas se pueden confundir con las Acanthaceas, pero las Acanthaceas usualmente tienen hojas serradas (una característica que nunca se encuentra en las Rubiaceas) y los tallos de las Acanthaceas usualmente están engrosados arriba de los nudos. Faramea, un género de arbustos y árboles pequeños, se puede confundir con las Clusiaceas pues sus hojas dísticas y venas a veces son muy finas y paralelas. Sin embargo a diferencia de las Clusiaceas, no presenta savia. Al examinar los tallos de Faramea, se observa que las hojas en realidad no son dísticas: los tallos se retuercen ubicando las hojas decusadas en un solo plano.

Usos económicos: El café (Coffea arabica) es la especie económicamente más importante en las Rubiaceas. Varios géneros son ornamentales, y se están investigando varias especies con altos niveles de alcaloides como fuentes de nuevas drogas.


Genera/species at La Selva: 44/108: Herbs/ hierbas: Amphidasya (1), Borreria (4), Coccocypselum (1), Geophila (3), Mitracarpus (1), Oldenlandia (2), Richardia (1) Shrubs/ arbustos: Bertiera (2), Chione (1), Coffea (1), Coussarea (5), Faramea (4), Gardenia (1), Gonzalagunia (1), Hamelia (3), Hippotis (1), Hoffmannia (2), Ixora (1), Ladenbergia (1), Lasianthus (1), Notopleura (8), Palicourea (3), Psychotria (30), Randia (3 of 4), Raritebe (1), Ronabea (2), Sommera (1) Vines (non-woody)/ bejucos no leñosos: Manettia (1), Sabicea (2) Lianas/ bejucos leñosos: Uncaria (1), Randia (1 of 4) Trees/ árboles: Alseis (1), Borojoa (2), Chimarrhis (1), Cosmibuena (1), Coutarea (1), Ferdinandusa (1), Genipa (1), Hillia (2), Isertia (1), Pentagonia(1), Posoqueria (3), Rudgea (1), Simira (1), Warszewiczia (1).


FIELD MARKSopposite (usually) or whorled, simple leaves, interpetiolar stipules


Genipa americana showing opposite leaves and interpetiolar stipules. The sap of this plant, known locally as “guaitil”, produces a blue dye that is used in making temporary tattoos.
Close-up showing interpetiolar stipule of Genipa americana.
Palicourea guianensis
The bright orange-red bracts of Psychotria poeppigiana give it the common name of “Hot Lips” while the small white flowers are easily overlooked. (This species was formerly known as Cephaelis tomentosa).
The bright orange-red bracts of Psychotria poeppigiana give it the common name of “Hot Lips” while the small white flowers are easily overlooked. (This species was formerly known as Cephaelis tomentosa).
Psychotria ipecacuanha is the source of the active ingredient in syrup of ipecac, a powerful emetic. (Formerly Cephaelis ipecacuanha).
The orange-red flowers of Hamelia patens (Firebush) are a favorite of Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds and flower mites. Unlike most members of the family, Hamelia has whorled leaves.
The orange-red flowers of Hamelia patens (Firebush) are a favorite of Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds and flower mites. Unlike most members of the family, Hamelia has whorled leaves.
Inflorescence of Warszewiczia coccinea. A single expanded sepal from each flower contributes to the stunning red inflorescence. The clusters of small orange petals and green sepals make up the rest of the flower.
Close-up of flowers of Warszewiczia coccinea.
Warszewiczia branch.
Warszewiczia close-up showing opposite leaves and large interpetiolar stipules.


< < Previous family: Polygalaceae
Next family: Rutaceae > >
How to Examine a PlantPlant Family ListKey to Plant FamiliesTop Ten ListsThe MatrixNavigation Bar.jpg