Ruellia sanguinea

 

Stymied by Ruellia taxonomy? Be confused no more! In this case, all thanks should be directed to Cecilia Ezcurra, an Argentian botanist I have never had the fortune of meeting. There are two people on this planet that more or less made my entire dissertation possible through their prior labor on Ruellia taxonomy: Cecilia is one, and Tom Daniel (California Academy of Sciences) is the other. I owe both so much gratitude so here it is – thanks to you both!

In 1989, Cecilia published a paper entitled “Ruellia sanguinea (Acanthaceae) y especies relacionadas en Argentina, Uruguay y sur de Brasil”. In this most welcomed manuscript, she clarified morphological differences within an otherwise tricky lineage of species with exclusively red flowers that have centers of distribution in Bolivia, Argentina, and surrounding areas. These species ’clade up’ in all molecular analyses to date, which is somewhat unusual among red-flowered, bird-adapted species of Ruellia (generally, the closest phylogenetic neighborhood of any given red-flowered species involves species with purple, yellow, or white flowers, but here seems to be a whole lineage of: red red red)Ruellia sanguinea grows in moist forests at mid elevations (1700 m or so), ranging from northern Argentina to Bolivia. Look for it by it’s blood red flowers. Below, I have modified and added to Cecilia’s original key from 1989. My thanks also go to Dieter Wasshausen (retired, Smithsonian), who worked very long and hard to produce the Acanthaceae treatment of Bolivia, as well as my colleague Alexander Schmidt Lebuhn (CSIRO), for helping make sense of this entire complex, which really needs a formal name.

Working key to Clade Red Red Red, which includes:

  1. angustiflora: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay
  2. brevifolia: everywhere
  3. gracilis: Bolivia
  4. longipedunculata: Bolivia & Argentina
  5. pearcei: Bolivia, Peru
  6. ruiziana: Bolivia, Peru
  7. sanguinea: Bolivia & Argentina
  8. saccata: Bolivia, saccate corollas

 

  1. Corollas distinctly pink……………………………………………………………………………………. Ruellia ruiziana
  2. Corollas distinctly red…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….2
  3. Flowers solitary, sessile or not, on very short peduncles, in axils of reduced apical leaves …………………….…………………………………………………………………………………………….….. Ruellia sanguinea
  4. Flowers in cymose, multiflowered inflorescences…………………………………………………………….…..3
  5. Leave linear……………………………………………………………………………..………………………Ruellia gracilis
  6. Leaves otherwise………………………….………………………………………………………………………………………..4
  7. Leaves always dark purple underneath……………………………………………………………..Ruellia pearcei
  8. Leaves not dark purple underneath……………………………………………………………………………………….5
  9. Corolla saccate……………………………………………………………………………………………….. Ruellia saccata
  10. Corolla otherwise…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..6
  11. Calyx lobes < 10 mm long, linear….………………………………………………………………..Ruellia brevifolia
  12. Calyx lobes > 10 mm long, lanceolate to oblong….…………………………………………………………………7
  13. Stems markedly 4-sided, inflorescences generally equal to or shorter than the axillary leaves……………………………………………………………………………………………………………Ruellia angustiflora
  14. Stems weakly 4-sided, inflorescences far exceeding the length of the axillary leaves…. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..Ruellia longipedunculata

 

Wild collected, Bolivia, E. Tripp #6021 w/ Manuel Luján & Dina Clark (COLO); Photos by Erin Tripp

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