Cephaelis Sw. has been shown to comprise a polyphyletic assemblage of species, many of which are more closely related to species in other genera than they are to each other (Steyermark, 1972, pp. 406-717), and the genus is no longer recognized. Cephaelis was originally distinguished by its inflorescence arrangement, capitate or subcapitate with well developed, sometimes involucral bracts surrounding individual capitula and/or the entire inflorescence. These characteristics are highly variable in many genera (Robbrecht, 1988), and thus are no longer considered good indicators of evolutionary relationships. Therefore, Cephaelis is not currently recognized as a separate genus in formal taxonomy, although it continues to be cited anecdotally, and its species have been or are being transferred to other genera, in most cases Psychotria (see "List of Netropical Cephaelis Names", below).
The type of Cephaelis is C. muscosa (Jacq.) Sw. (type cons.), originally described from Martinique, which belongs to the wholly Neotropical group Psychotria Subg. Heteropsychotria Steyerm. (Taylor, 1996; this group mostly belongs to Palicourea s. lat.). Thus, "Cephaelis" in its original circumscription was completely Neotropical, and species from Africa and Asia that have been included in this genus belong to Psychotria Subg. Psychotria or other genera. Many of the African species with capitate, bracteate inflorescences were originally described in Grumilea, Uragoga or Evea; Uragoga and Evea were also based on Neotropical type species, and are also synonyms of Psychotria subg. Heteropsychotria and Palicourea.
Several names in Cephaelis have entered into wide use but were never actually published. Some principal sources for these unpublished names are:
1.) photos of type specimens distributed by the Field Museum: several names originally published in Psychotria were simply written on these photos as "Cephaelis", with no indication of the genus of original publication. This apparently was done as a curatorial indication that these species would be better placed in Cephaelis. In particular, Mueller Argoviensis did not recognize the genus Cephaelis, so any Cephaelis name attributed to him was not published in that form. This list also contains several incorrectly spelled epithets.
2.) early volumes of Index Kewensis: several names that were actually published in Evea, a synonym of Cephaelis, were "corrected" in early parts of this work, and cited as if they had been originally published in Cephaelis.
3.) annotations on specimens: in particular, several of names that were never published were distributed through specimen annotations by K. Krause (B), K. Schumann (B), and Dwyer (MO).
In a morphological analysis of the tribe Sabiceeae (subfamily Ixoroideae), Khan et al. (2008) formally synonymized Cephaelis with Sabicea in their nomenclatural summary but this appears to be a typographic or presentation error. The type species of Cephaelis is not included in their analysis, and this synonymization is not mentioned in the abstract, discussion, or summary of results. Possibly the intention of the presentation here was to note that the species of Sabicea that were classified at one time in Cephaelis are included within the circumscription of Sabicea here, in which case citing Cephaelis in the formal generic nomenclatural summary is not accurate.
The list below gives validly published names for neotropical species of Cephaelis and their currently accepted identities. The indication "??" following a name means that no combination has yet been made and no taxonomic equivalence has been indicated in any other genus; however, these names should not be assumed to be transferrable to Psychotria, but may belong to other genera. For names from regions outside of the Americas, a similar list is not yet available. For names found on type photos but not included on this list, see the notes on unpublished names, above.
Author: C.M. Taylor
The content of this web page was last revised on 8 April 2008.
Taylor web page: http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/Research/curators/taylor.shtml