A genus of a single species, closely allied to Lapageria, with which it has been successfully hybridised (see × Philageria). But the lapageria is a true climber, with lax, twining stems, and has much wider, larger leaves which are three- or five-veined from the base. The flowers are essentially the same, though smaller in Philesia. In both genera the fruit is a berry, but in Lapageria it is three-celled, one-celled in Philesia.
P. magellanica was discovered by the French naturalist Philibert Commerson in the Magellan region during de Bougainville's voyage round the world. He was accompanied on his explorations by his mistress Jeanne Baret, disguised as a manservant, and by the young Prince of Nassau-Siegen. The charming generic name Philesia, chosen by Commerson though published by de Jussieu, comes from the Greek verb philein, to love.