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Canthium coromandelicum near Hyderabad W IMG 7604.jpg
Canthium coromandelicum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Subfamily: Ixoroideae
Tribe: Vanguerieae
Genus: Canthium
Type species
Canthium coromandelicum
(Burm.f.) Alston

Canthium is a genus of flowering plants in the Rubiaceae family. They are shrubs and small trees. The leaves are deciduous and the stems are usually thorny.


They are native to India, Sri Lanka, eastern and southern Africa, Madagascar, Seychelles, China, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and some of the islands of the Pacific.[1] Most species occur in tropical Asia and only a limited number of species are found on the African continent and islands.


Canthium was named by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1785 in Encyclopédie Méthodique.[2] The name is a latinisation of "kantankara", a Malayalam name from Kerala for Canthium coromandelicum. Kantan means "shining" and kara means "a spiny shrub".[3] The biological type for the genus consists of specimens originally described by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck as Canthium parviflorum[4] but this species is now included in Canthium coromandelicum.[1] Canthium is a member of Vanguerieae, a tribe that is monophyletic and easily recognized morphologically, but in which generic boundaries were, for a long time, very unclear.[5] Canthium was especially problematic, and until the 1980s, it was defined broadly and known to be polyphyletic. Psydrax was separated from it in 1985,[6] as was Keetia in 1986.[7] These were followed by Pyrostria and Multidentia in 1987.[8][9] The subgenus Afrocanthium was raised to generic rank in 2004,[10] followed by Bullockia in 2009.[11] A few species were transferred to Canthium from Rytigynia and other genera in 2004 but the final circumscription of Canthium will remain in doubt until phylogenetic studies achieve greater resolution for the clade containing Canthium coromandelicum and its closest relatives.[10]



  1. ^ a b Bridson DM (1992). "The genus Canthium (Rubiaceae - Vanguerieae) in tropical Africa". Kew Bulletin. 47 (3): 353–401. doi:10.2307/4110569. 
  2. ^ Lamarck J-B (1785). Encyclopédie méthodique par ordre des matières. 1. p. 602. 
  3. ^ Quattrocchi U (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. 1. Boca Raton, New York, Washington DC, London: CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-8493-2675-2. 
  4. ^ Canthium In: Index Nominum Genericorum. In: Regnum Vegetabile
  5. ^ Lantz H, Bremer B (2005). "Phylogeny of the complex Vanguerieae (Rubiaceae) genera Fadogia, Rytigynia, and Vangueria with close relatives and a new circumscription of Vangueria". Plant Systematics and Evolution. 253: 159–183. doi:10.1007/s00606-005-0313-9. 
  6. ^ Bridson DM (1985). "The reinstatement of Psydrax (Rubiaceae, subfam. Cinchonoideae tribe Vanguerieae) and a revision of the African species". Kew Bulletin. 40 (4): 687–725. doi:10.2307/4109853. 
  7. ^ Bridson DM (1986). "The reinstatement of the African genus Keetia (Rubiaceae subfam. Cinchonoideae tribe Vanguerieae)". Kew Bulletin. 41 (4): 965–994. doi:10.2307/4102996. 
  8. ^ Bridson DM (1987). "Studies in African Rubiaceae - Vanguerieae: a new circumscription of Pyrostria and a new subgenus, Canthium subgen. Bullockia". Kew Bulletin. 47 (3): 611–639. doi:10.2307/4110068. 
  9. ^ Bridson DM (1987). "The recognition and recircumscription of the African genus Multidentia (Rubiaceae - Vanguerieae)". Kew Bulletin. 47 (3): 641–654. doi:10.2307/4110069. 
  10. ^ a b Lantz H, Bremer B (2004). "Phylogeny inferred from morphology and DNA data: characterizing well-supported groups in Vanguerieae (Rubiaceae)". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 146 (3): 257–283. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2004.00338.x. 
  11. ^ Razafimandimbison SG, Lantz H, Mouly A, Bremer B (2009). "Evolutionary trends, major lineages, and new generic limits in the dioecious group of the tribe Vanguerieae (Rubiaceae): insights into the evolution of functional dioecy". Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. 96 (1): 161–181. doi:10.3417/2006191. 

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