Electronic Flora of South Australia
Electronic Flora of South Australia
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Electronic Flora of South Australia genus Fact Sheet

Family: Rubiaceae

Citation: L., Sp. Pl. 103 (1753).

Derivation: Latin asper, rough; alluding to the stiff hairy clothing.

Synonymy: Not Applicable

Common name: Woodruffs.

Herbs, usually perennial, with slender quadrangular stems and usually with a slightly woody base; leaves and stipules usually of similar size ('leaves') and in whorls of often varying numbers on different parts of the same plant.

Inflorescence a dichasium with more or less loosely arranged flowers in a terminal or subterminal position; flowers unisexual (plants dioecious), 4-merous; calyx absent; corolla funnel-shaped with the tube usually longer than the lobes, rarely rotate, deciduous; stamens with filaments scarcely fused to the corolla; anthers without a terminal appendage; ovary inferior, 2-locular, each locule with a solitary ovule and with 2-lobed styles with capitate stigmas.

Fruit usually somewhat fleshy, drupaceous, often deeply 2-lobed with one lobe frequently aborted and usually not breaking into 2 mericarps at maturity.

Distribution:  A genus of about 200 species mainly from Europe to central Asia with the Australian and New Zealand species being considered by some authorities as generically distinct on account of their dioecious plants and somewhat different inflorescence.

Biology: No text

Taxonomic notes: The genus is very similar to Galium from which it is conventionally distinguished by its longer floral tube, but in some species the tube is very short. Additional characteristics of Asperula are the dioecious nature of the plants, the inflorescence consisting usually of one to few terminal dichasia and the drupaceous fruit's usually being bilobed and not breaking into two mericarps naturally. If in doubt, consult the key to species of Asperula and Galium under the genus Galium.

Key to Species:
1. 'Leaves' ovate, rarely broadly elliptic to oblanceolate or obovate
2. 'Leaves' in whorls of 4, with margins ciliate
A. euryphylla var. tetraphylla 2.
2. 'Leaves' in whorls of 5 or 6, rarely 4 at the apex, with margins smooth
A. gunnii 4.
1. 'Leaves' linear or linear-elliptic to linear-lanceolate
3. 'Leaves' in whorls of 2 or 4; branches decumbent or scrambling, glabrous or almost so
4. Inflorescence with flowers usually spreading at right angles to the axis; branches usually wiry
A. gemella 3.
4. Inflorescence with erect flowers densely clustered; branches soft- herbaceous
A. subsimplex 6.
3. 'Leaves' in whorls of 5-10; branches usually stiffly erect, or if not then densely covered with hairs
5. Upper 'leaf surface with short erect hairs
A. pusilla 5.
5. Upper 'leaf surface glabrous except along the recurred margin
6. Stems and 'leaves' with short recurved hairs; 'leaves' in whorls of 5 or 6
A. conferta 1.
6. Stems and 'leaves' with long spreading hairs rarely slightly bent backward at the base; 'leaves' in whorls of 7-10, rarely 6
A. syrticola 7.

Author: Not yet available

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