A genus of about 75-160 species (by current overly broad circumscription), herbs and herbaceous vines, primarily tropical and restricted to the New World. The genus as generally circumscribed since Woodson (1941) is polyphyletic and very diverse. Woodson (1941) created this broad circumscription of Matelea by merging dozens of previously recognized genera, stating "I should like to lay a curse on the man who revives them without at least as much study as I have devoted". Gonolobus and Chthamalia are here removed, and at least Matelea alabamensis will also be removed from Matelea. Endress et al. (2018) retain Odontostephana, Edisonia, and Cyclodon for our remaining species, excluding Matelea from the southeastern United States flora.
ID notes:Matelea and Gonolobus are difficult to distinguish without flowers or fruits. Fresh Matelea leaves do not have a strong odor when crushed; Gonolobus has a disagreeable odor of peanut butter/burnt/buttered popcorn. Gonolobus typically exhibits (at least some) leaves more drawn out in length with margins more or less parallel for some length before curving toward the tip (vs. in Matelea usually more rounded/ovate, curved throughout, and Ipomoea-like in Matelea, at least to me).
Ref: Drapalik (1969); Endress et al. (2018) In Kadereit & Bittrich (2018); Fishbein & McDonnell (in prep.) In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (in prep.); McDonnell & Fishbein (2016); Singhurst & Holmes (2021); Woodson (1941). Show full citations.