Chapelieria was first separated by A. Richard in his study of the Rubiaceae family, and de Candolle took the information about it from Richard's work; however de Candolle's description of this genus was effectively published a few months before Richard's work was. This genus is related to Fernelia, Lemyrea, Galiniera, Gallienia, and some others in Madagascar, and the separation and circumscription of several of these are not yet completely clear (Stone & Davis 2004; Davies & Davis 2014).
Chapelieria comprises shrubs or small trees with rather leathery leaves; triangular interpetiolar stipules that are generally persistent; axillary in a supra-axillary position, bracteate inflorescences; bisexual flowers with 5 calyx lobes, corolla lobes, and stamens; a funnelform, generally white corolla with the lobes left-contorted in bud; narrowly oblong, subsessile anthers that are partially exserted; a cylindrical 10-grooved stigma; the ovary 2-locular with 3-7 ovules in each locule; leathery, berry-like red fruits; non-ruminate endosperm; and generally a brown drying color (Davies & Davis 2014). Chevalier (1942, 1946) characterized the genus as having the flowers in sessile axillary glomerules or congested cymules, but also included in Chapelieria a species with terminal fascicles or cymes of flowers with well developed peduncles or pedicels, Chapelieria lemyrioides. Both of these species were described and illustrated by Chevalier as having cylindrical, entire or longitudinally ridged stigma; de Candolle inaccurately described the stigmas as shortly bilobed in the protologue, and the stipules as caducous.
Chapelieria for a long time was not well known and contained several nomenclatural problems. In particular there was confusion about the type specimen of Chapelieria madagascariensis and what species that specimen represented, and the name Chapelieria lemyroides is not validly published. Davies & Davis (2014) clarified the typification of Chapelieria madagascariensis and presented a detailed corresponding circumscription of it along with two newly described species. They did not resolve the problem of Chapelieria lemyrioides, but suggested that the species that Chevalier studied belongs to Lemyrea.