The Rubiaceae (coffee family) is one of the largest woody plant families in the wet tropics, comprising approximately 13,500 species in 620 genera. They form an easily recognizable at family level by decussate, entire leaves, presence of stipules and an inferior ovary. Coffea (Coffee) is by far the most economically important member of Rubiaceae, being the second most important traded commodity after oil. Rubiaceae also provide local indigenous populations with remedies against malaria and other diseases, body paints, edible fruits and construction wood. This family is an important component of all tropical woody vegetation, especially the rain forest understory. Given the abundance and ubiquity of this family in humid and dry tropical forest ecosystems, the identification of Rubiaceae is often vital to the understanding of tropical ecology.
The need for further research on the Rubiaceae is crutial. Great progress is being made with molecular systematic for the classification of Rubiaceae. There are numerous unresolved generic and species complexes, several hundred undescribed species. The need for basic taxonomic knowledge is heightened by habitat destruction in the tropics.
Our taxonomic knowledge of African Rubiaceae has been improving over the years. The goal of this web page is to provide a platform to share and disseminate taxonomical data (publications, silica gel material, photos, etc) as it becomes available.