Common name. Bedstraws. Family Rubiaceae.
Habit and leaf form. Dwarf shrubs, or herbs. Herbs annual, or perennial. Young stems tetragonal. Self supporting, or climbing. Helophytic, or mesophytic, or xerophytic. Leaves minute to small; whorled; 3–9 per whorl; petiolate to sessile; connate (via the stipules), or not connate; gland-dotted, or not gland-dotted; simple; epulvinate. Leaf blades entire; one-veined, or pinnately veined; cross-venulate. Leaves with stipules. Stipules interpetiolar; leafy (usually similar in size to the leaves, whorled); with colleters (secreting mucilage), or without colleters. Leaf blade margins entire, or serrate. Leaves without a persistent basal meristem. Domatia recorded, or not recorded; represented by pits, or pockets, or hair tufts. Stem anatomy. Nodes unilacunar, or tri-lacunar. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring.
Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite. Plants homostylous, or heterostylous. Entomophilous. Pollination mechanism conspicuously specialized (with passive pollen presentation involving stylar modification), or unspecialized.
Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’, or solitary; in cymes. Inflorescences simple, or compound (sometimes a panicle or head of cymes). The terminal inflorescence unit cymose. Inflorescences axillary. Flowers pedicellate (pedicels often longer than the ovary); ebracteolate; minute to small; regular; 3–4(–5) merous; cyclic; tetracyclic. Free hypanthium present, or absent (depending on interpretation). Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla, or petaline (the calyx often absent); 3–8; 2 -whorled, or 1 -whorled; the two whorls isomerous, or anisomerous. Calyx when detectable (3–)4; 1 -whorled; gamosepalous; open in bud; regular. Corolla (3–)4(–5); 1 -whorled; gamopetalous; valvate; rotate, or funnel-shaped (with a very short tube); regular; white, or yellow. Androecium (3–)4. Androecial members adnate (to the corolla tube); free of one another; 1 -whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens (3–)4; becoming exserted; isomerous with the perianth; oppositisepalous. Anthers dorsifixed; versatile; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate; unappendaged. Pollen shed as single grains. Gynoecium 2 carpelled. The pistil 2 celled. Carpels reduced in number relative to the perianth. Gynoecium syncarpous; synovarious to synstylovarious; inferior. Ovary plurilocular; 2 locular. Gynoecium transverse. Epigynous disk present. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1, or 2; forked (when single), or simple (when styles 2); attenuate from the ovary, or from a depression at the top of the ovary; apical; shorter than the ovary at anthesis to much longer than the ovary at anthesis. Stigmas 2; 1 - lobed; capitate, or clavate; wet type, or dry type; papillate, or non-papillate; Group II type and Group IV type. Placentation axile. Ovules 1 per locule; ascending; amphitropous.
Fruit and seed features. Fruit non-fleshy, or fleshy (somewhat succulent, rarely); indehiscent, or a schizocarp. Mericarps 2; comprising achenes, or comprising nutlets, or comprising drupelets. Fruit a drupe; 2 seeded. Seeds 1 per mericarp. Seeds endospermic, or non-endospermic. Endosperm ruminate, or not ruminate; if present, oily. Seeds winged, or wingless. Cotyledons 2. Embryo straight, or curved. Seedling. Germination phanerocotylar, or cryptocotylar.
Physiology, biochemistry. Aluminium accumulation not found.
Geography, cytology, number of species. Native of Australia. Not endemic to Australia. Australian states and territories: Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, and Tasmania. Eremaean Botanical Province and South-West Botanical Province. X = 11.
Additional characters Corolla lobes spreading.
Etymology. Explained by Dioscorides as derived from gala (milk), because the juice was used to curdle milk; Pliny used the name for Scrophularia peregrina.