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updated: 01/19/11 

(Gentianaceae: Saccifolieae)

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Common name: 

Latin name and synonyms: Curtia Cham. & Schltdl., Linnaea 1: 209, t. 4 (1826).
Synonym: Schuebleria Mart., Nov. Gen. Sp. Pl. 2: 113 (1826 [1827]) “Schübleria.”
Synonym: Apophragma Griseb., Gen. Sp. Gent. 163 (1839 [1838])

Species:   6-10 species.

Distribution:   This genus only occurs in the Neotropics, with most species present in Brazil. The total distribution includes Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina.

Habitat:  Savannas, grasslands and open spaces in the Neotropics.

Characteristics:  Erect annual herbs, usually not very conspicuous.. Stems terete to quadrangular. Leaves scale-like, linear to elliptic or ovate, opposite or sometimes in whorls (up to 8 in each whorl). Inflorescence a lax cyme. Flowers 5-merous, pedicellate, and sometimes heterostylous. Calyx with tube shorter than calyx lobes, with calycine colleters. Corolla white, yellow, pale lilac, pink, or purplish, sometimes hairy on the inside, funnel- to salver-shaped; corolla tubes about as long as corolla lobes. Flowers with short styles with long filaments and free, non-sagittate anthers without sterile tissue at apex. Flowers with long styles with short filaments and connate, sagittate anthers with a sterile appendage at apex. Anthers basifixed (rarely dorsifixed). Stamens of long-styled flowers usually inserted lower in the corolla tube than in short-styled flowers. Pollen released as monads (single pollen grains). Ovary unilocular with parietal placentas, tapering into a distinct style. Stigma bilobed or club-shaped. Fruit a small capsule.

Evolution and related plants:   Curtia is placed in the Saccifolieae, together with other heterostylous plants such as Tapeinostemon and Hockinia.

Economic uses:  None known.


Accepted/Selected species (synonyms in parenthesis) and their distribution:

Curtia conferta (Mart.) Knobl.
Schuebleria conferta Mart; Curtia quadrifolia Maguire)
Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela
Curtia confusa  SE Brazil
Curtia obtusifolia (Benth.) Knobl.
Schuebleria obtusifolia Benth.)
Brazil, Venezuela
Curtia patula
Curtia tenuifolia (Aubl.) Knobl.
(Exacum tenuifolium Aubl.; Apophragma tenuifolium (Aubl.) Griseb.; Schuebleria tenuifolia (Aubl.) G. Don;
Schuebleria tenella Mart.; Curtia tenella (Mart.) Cham.; Curtia tenuifolia subsp. tenella (Mart.) Grothe & Maas)
Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela,. Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina


References and publications

Gilg, C. 1939. Beiträge zur Kenntis der Gentianaceen-Gattung Curtia Cham. & Schlecht. Notizbl. Bot. Gart. Berlin-Dahlem 121: 66-93.

Grothe, E. H. M. & P. J. M. Maas. 1984. A scanning electron microscopic study of the seed coat structure of Curtia Chamisso & Schlechtendahl and Hockinia Gardner (Gentianaceae). Proc. Kon. Ned. Akad. Wetensch., Ser. C, 87 (1): 33-42.

Maguire, B. 1981. Gentianaceae. Pp. 330-388. In: B. Maguire & collaborators, editors. The Botany of the Guayana Highland – Part XI. Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 32.

Struwe, L., J. W. Kadereit, J. Klackenberg, S. Nilsson, M. Thiv, K. B. von Hagen, & V. A. Albert. 2002. Systematics, character evolution, and biogeography of Gentianaceae, including a new tribal and subtribal classification. Pp. 21-309. In: L. Struwe & V. A. Albert (eds.), Gentianaceae: Systematics and Natural History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Struwe, L., P. J. M. Maas, O. Pihlar, & V. A. Albert. 1999. Gentianaceae. Pp. 474-542. In: P. E. Berry, K. Yatskievych, & B. K. Holst, editors. Flora of the Venezuelan Guayana, vol. 5. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis.  (images)

© Lena Struwe, 2004


© Gentian Research Network, 2002-2011.
For corrections and additions, contact Lena Struwe at