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Philcoxia

Philcoxia is a genus of four rare plant species in the Plantaginaceae that are endemic to Brazil and resemble terrestrial species of the genus Utricularia. The genus, formally described in 2000, consists of the species P. bahiensis, P. goiasensis, P. minensis, and P. tuberosa, each of the first three named for the Brazilian state to which it is endemic. The species are characterized by subterranean stems, peltate leaves at or below the soil surface, and five-lobed calyces. Their habitat has been reported as areas of white sand in the midst of cerrado vegetation at an elevation between 800 and 1450 m. Initial descriptions of the genus included suspicions that the plethora of stalked capitate glands on the upper surfaces of leaves was an indication that these species may be carnivorous. A study published in 2007 tested P. minensis for protease activity, a typical test for the carnivorous syndrome, and could detect none. Later studies detected other digestive enzymes such as phosphatases and qualitatively assessed prey digestion and nutrient uptake, suggesting that it is a true carnivorous plant. The genus epithet honors David Philcox, a botanist at Kew Gardens who worked extensively in tropical Scrophulariaceae.