Distribution of Rubiaceae:
It is commonly known as Madder or Coffee family. It includes 6000 species and 500 genera. In India it is represented by 551 species. The members of this family are distributed in tropics, sub-tropics and temperate regions.
Economic Importance of Rubiaceae:
- Medicinal plants: Bark of Cinchona officinalis yields an alkaloid called Quinine which is the best remedy for malarial fever. The roots of Rubia cordifolia are also used as medicine.
- Beverage plants: The seeds of Coffea arabica, C. liberica and C. robusta are roasted and ground to give coffee powder.
- Ornamental plants:
Rubia, Hamelia, Gardenia, Ixora, Mussaenda are cultivated in gardens for their beautiful flowers.
Affinities of Rubiaceae:
The family is closely related to Adoxaceae and Caprifoliaceae in the presence of inferior ovary, actinomorphic and hermaphrodite flowers, type of inflorescence, reduction in the number of carpels and ovules. The Rubiaceae also resembles the Loganiaceae in well-developed stipules, glandular trichomes, nuclear endosperm. Rubiaceae differ from Loganiaceae in possessing inferior ovary. Bessey traced the origin of Rubiales from the Umbellales which in turn originated from the Rosales. The Rubiales resemble the Umbellales in aggregation of flowers, reduction in the number of calyx and corolla lobes, stamens and carpels; in both epigynous flowers with nectar secretory disc are present. This suggests a close taxonomic relationship among the Rubiales and the Umbellales.