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Foreground: leaves and inflorescence of unidentified Palicourea species
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Subfamily: Rubioideae
Tribe: Psychotrieae
Genus: Palicourea

About 200, see text

Palicourea is a plant genus in the family Rubiaceae. It contains about 200 species, which range in habit from shrubs to small trees, and is distributed throughout the New World tropics.[1]

These plants are very closely related to Psychotria and in particular its subgenus Heteropsychotria. Indeed, it seems to be nothing else but a distinctively-flowered offshoot of Heteropsychotria; arguably, it would thus need to be merged into Psychotria to make that genus monophyletic. But on the other hand, Psychotria is extremely diverse already, so it is probably more practical to move the more distantly related species out of this genus and merge Heteropsychotria with Palicourea.[1]

The genus is not well studied. Most species are distylous, although a few on isolated Caribbean islands seem to have lost the trait. Flowers are in racemes, having no scent, and are normally pollinated by hummingbirds. Blue-black berries follow, and are thought to be distributed by birds.[1]

Almost one-tenth of the Palicourea species are considered threatened by the IUCN, even though the conservation status has only been reviewed for those species that occur in Ecuador.[2]

Selected species[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Taylor (2008)
  2. ^ IUCN (2008)