Three subspecies currently recognized:
rubinoides, described as Trochilus rubinoides (Bourcier and Mulsant 1846); type locality Colombia
Occurs in the central and eastern Andes of Colombia.
See Detailed Description.
aequatorialis, described as Phaiolaima æquatorialis (Gould 1860); type locality Quito and Pallatanga, Ecuador
Occurs in the western Andes of Colombia and the west slope of the Andes of Ecuador.
Similar to nominate rubinoides, but plumage more golden green, and underparts more strongly spotted wit green (Hinkelmann 1999).
cervinigularis, described as Phæolæma cervinigularis (Salvin 1892, in Salvin and Hartert 1892); type locality Ecuador?
Occurs on the east slope of the Andes of Ecuador and Peru.
"Larger, has underparts almost entirely cinnamon-buff with fewer interspersed green discs, throat patch slightly smaller and paler" (Hinkelmann 1999).
Genetic evidence, from starch gel electrophoresis of protein coding loci, indicates that Heliodoxa rubinoides is sister to the species pair Heliodoxa leadbeateri (Violet-fronted Brilliant) and Heliodoxa jacula (Green-fronted Brilliant) (Gerwin and Zink 1989). This study, however, did not include examples of Heliodoxa imperatrix (Empress Brilliant). Phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequence data, from both mitochondrial and nuclear genes, also identifies leadbeateri and jacula as sister taxa, but places rubinoides and imperatrix as basal to this clade, in an unresolved polytomy (McGuire et al. 2007, 2009).
A recent phylogenetic survey of the phylogenetic relationships of hummingbirds, based on DNA sequence data from both mitochondrial and nuclear genes, 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). Heliodoxa belongs to the brilliant clade, and is sister to the monotypic genus Urochroa; other genera in the brilliant clade are Haplophaedia, Eriocnemis, Aglaeactis, Coeligena, Lafresnaya, Ensifera, Pterophanes, Boissonneaua, Ocreatus, and Urosticte (McGuire et al. 2007, 2009).