Two subspecies recognized:
eliciae, described as Trochilus Eliciae (Bourcier and Mulsant 1846) Type locality not given; restricted to Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala by Wetmore (1967: 235).
Occurs from southern Mexico south to southern Costa Rica. See Detailed Description.
earina, described as Hylocharis eliciae earina Wetmore 1967; type locality Quebraba Chucantí, Serranía de Majé, eastern Province of Panamá, Panama
Occurs in Panama and northwestern Colombia.
Similar to nominate eliciae, but "definitely darker above, being dark metallic green, with crown and back nearly uniform; coppery brown of upper tail coverts and lower rump slightly darker; this color less extensive on upper rump; tail duller metallic bronze-green" (Wetmore 1967: 233).
Phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequence data reveals that hummingbirds (Trochilidae) constitute nine major clades, comprising the hermits, mangos, Patagona, topazes, coquettes, brilliants, mountain-gems, bees, and emeralds (McGuire et al. 2007, 2009). Hylocharis is a member of the emerald clade. Other genera that are documented to belong to the emerald clade are Chlorostilbon, Klais, Orthorhynchus, Campylopterus, Chalybura, Thalurania, Eupherusa, Microchera, Elvira, Aphantochroa, Taphrospilus, Amazilia, Chrysuronia, Hylocharis, Lepidopyga, and Damophila (McGuire et al. 2007, 2009); additiontionally, the following genera were not sampled in this study, but also are believed to belong to the emerald clade: Cynanthus, Abeillia, Cyanophaia, Eupetomena, Goethalsia, Goldmania, Leucippus, Leucochloris, Phaeochroa, Stephanoxis, and Trochilus.
This phylogenetic analysis sampled four species of Hylocharis (eliciae, Hylocharis cyanus White-chinned Sapphire, Hylocharis sapphirina Rufous-throated Sapphire, and Hylocharis grayi Blue-headed Sapphire), which did not form a monophyletic group. Hylocharis eliciae was basal to H. cyanus and Damophila julie (Violet-bellied Hummingbird); H. grayi was sister to Lepidopyga coeruleogularis (Sapphire-throated Hummingbird); and H. sapphirina was in a clade with Amazilia fimbriata (Glittering-throated Hummingbird) and Amazilia chionogaster (White-bellied Hummingbird).