The genera Gomphocalyx and Phylohydrax (Rubiaceae) have been invariably placed in the tribe Spermacoceae s.s. based on the uni-ovulate ovary locules and pluri-aperturate pollen grains. Sequence data from the rps16 intron and the rbcL gene here presented exclude Gomphocalyx and Phylohydrax from Spermacoceae s.s. The two genera are closely related and their nearest relatives are found among members of the former tribe Hedyotideae. This position may be surprising at first, because the growth form of Phylohydrax is similar to some observed in Spermacoceae s.s. A detailed survey of morphological and anatomical characters shows, however, that the character states of the two genera are largely consistent with the here-proposed position in Hedyotideae. The creeping growth form, the uni-ovulate ovaries and the pluri-colporate pollen grains of Gomphocalyx and Phylohydrax are the result of convergence between this pair of genera and Spermacoceae s.s. The taxonomic position of Lathraeocarpa, sometimes considered closely related to Gomphocalyx, is also discussed.

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Staff publications

Dessein, S., Andersson, L., Geuten, K., Smets, E., & Robbrecht, E. (2005). Gomphocalyx and Phylohydrax (Rubiaceae): sister taxa excluded from Spermacoceae s.s., featuring a remarkable case of convergent evolution. TAXON, 54(1), 91–107.