The genus Canephora includes shrubs with generally rather leathery leaves, triangular persistent stipules, axillary inflorescences with the the peduncle flattened and winged to form a phylloclade that produces an apical or subapical, small group of subsessile flowers enclosed by stipuliform bracts, funnelform to campanulate white corollas with the lobes contorted, and berry-like red fruits with 1 or a few seeds. The flattened winged peduncles are distinctive. The anatomy and development of the characteristic inflorescence that diagnoses Canephora was studied by De Block & Vrijdaghs (2013), who demonstrated that it is an inflorescence structure rather than an axillary branch, and is basically dichasial with the peduncle, primary axis, and secondary axes condensed and modified to form the supporting phyllode structure, the flowers borne on higher-order axes and pedicels at the end of this phyllode.
Wernham (1911) recognized 5 species, of which the majority are apparently rare and have 4-merous flowers, vs. rather commonly collected and with 5-merous flowers in the remaining species. This last species has sometimes been called "Canephora madagascariensis J.F. Gmel.", apparently following the usage by Wernham (1911). Wernham cited this name in that work as "nomen", that is, not validly published, but then proceded to use it anyway and to cite the validly published name that was previously used for this species, Canephora axillaris, as a synonym. Gmelin's name lacked any descriptive information and thus was not validly published according to our current rules of nomenclature, because even though it was the only species in its genus, the genus had been previously described in another place so his species needed a separate description to be valid. Wernham's use of this name was therefore incorrect and Canephora axillaris appears to be the correct name for this species.
The information compiled here follows the taxonomy of Wernham, until a new survey of the genus is available.