Description of 11 new Astiella (Spermacoceae, Rubiaceae) species endemic to Madagascar

  • Inge Groeninckx Plant Conservation and Population Biology, KU Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 31, P.O. Box 2435, 3001 Leuven
  • Steven Janssens Botanic Garden Meise, Nieuwelaan 38, 1860 Meise
  • Erik Smets Naturalis Biodiversity Center, P.O. Box 9517, 2300 RA Leiden
  • Brecht Verstraete Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Sølvgade 83S, 1307 Copenhagen
Keywords: Astiella, endemism, Madagascar, Rubiaceae, Spermacoceae s. lat.


Astiella is an herbaceous genus endemic to Madagascar, originally described with a single species A. delicatula Jovet. Molecular and morphological evidence place it in the tribe Spermacoceae s. lat. of Rubiaceae. During herbarium studies and fieldwork in Madagascar, 11 new Astiella species were identified and these are described here: A. antongilensis Groeninckx sp. nov., A.antsalovansis Groeninckx sp. nov., A. confusa Groeninckx sp. nov., A. deblockiae Groeninckx sp. nov., A.desseinii Groeninckx sp. nov., A. homolleae Groeninckx sp. nov., A. latifolia Groeninckx sp. nov., A.longifimbria Groeninckx sp. nov., A. perrieri Groeninckx sp. nov., A. pulla Groeninckx sp. nov., and A.tsaratanensis Groeninckx sp. nov. The genus Astiella now holds 12 species in total that are all endemic to Madagascar.


Anonymous 1962. Systematics association committee for descriptive biological terminology. II. Terminology of simple symmetrical plane shapes (chart 1). Taxon 11: 145–156.

Bachman S., Moat J., Hill A.W., De la Torre J. & Scott B. 2011. Supporting Red List threat assessments with GeoCAT: geospatial conservation assessment tool. In: Smith V. & Penev L. (eds) e-Infrastructures for data publishing in biodiversity science. ZooKeys 150: 117–126.

Beentje H. 2012. The Kew Plant Glossary, an illustrated dictionary of plant terms. Revised edition. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Callmander M.W., Schatz G.E. & Lowry P.P. 2005. IUCN Red List assessment and the global strategy for plant conservation: taxonomists must act now. Taxon 54: 1047–1050.

Dessein S., Ntore S., Robbrecht E. & Smets E. 2003. Pollen and seeds reveal that Spermacoce thymoidea s.l. (African Rubiaceae, Spermacoceae) represents three endemic or disjunct species from the Zambesian high plateaus. Systematic Botany 28: 130–144.

Govaerts R., Ruhsam M., Andersson L., Robbrecht E., Bridson D., Davis A., Schanzer I. & Sonké B. 2016. World Checklist of Rubiaceae. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Available from [accessed 29 Jul. 2016].

Groeninckx I., Dessein S., Ochoterena H., Persson C., Motley T.J., Karehed J., Bremer B., Huysmans S. & Smets E. 2009. Phylogeny of the herbaceous tribe Spermacoceae (Rubiaceae) based on plastid DNA data. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 96: 109–132.

Groeninckx I., Briggs M., Davis A., De Block P., Robbrecht E., Smets E. & Dessein S. 2010a. A new herbaceous genus endemic to Madagascar: Phialiphora (Spermacoceae, Rubiaceae). Taxon 59: 1815–1829.

Groeninckx I., De Block P., Robbrecht E., Smets E. & Dessein S. 2010b. Amphistemon and Thamnoldenlandia, two new genera of Rubiaceae (Spermacoceae) endemic to Madagascar. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 163: 447–472.

IUCN 2001. IUCN Red List Categories: Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission, Cambridge. Available from [accessed 24 Jan. 2017].

Janssens S., Groeninckx I., De Block P., Verstraete B., Smets E. & Dessein S. 2016. Dispersing towards Madagascar: biogeography and evolution of the Madagascan endemics of the Spermacoceae tribe (Rubiaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 95: 58–66.

Jovet P. 1941. Astiella delicatula, espèce nouvelle d’un genre nouveau malgache (Rubiacées-Oldenlandiées). Notulae Systematicae 9: 146–156.

Moat J. & Smith P. 2007. Atlas of the vegetation of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Punt W., Hoen P.P., Blackmore S., Nilsson S. & Le Thomas A. 2007. Glossary of pollen and spore terminology. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 143: 1–81.

Reitsma T. 1969. Size modifications of recent pollen grains under different treatments. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 9: 175–202.

Schols P., Dessein S. & Smets E. 2001. iMap version 2.0. Available from

Schols P., Dessein S., D’hondt C., Huysmans S. & Smets E. 2002. Carnoy: a new digital measurement tool for palynology. Grana 41: 124–126.

Thiers B. Continuously updated. Index Herbariorum, a global directory of public herbaria and associated staff. Available from [accessed 24 Jan. 2017].

How to Cite
Groeninckx, I., Janssens, S., Smets, E., & Verstraete, B. (2017). Description of 11 new Astiella (Spermacoceae, Rubiaceae) species endemic to Madagascar. European Journal of Taxonomy, (312).