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Thomas J. Rosatti, except as noted

Annual, perennial herb, shrub, tree, often vine; sap generally milky. Leaf: simple, alternate, opposite, subwhorled to whorled, entire; stipules 0 or small, finger-like. Inflorescence: axillary or terminal, cyme, generally umbel- or raceme-like, or flowers 1–2. Flower: bisexual, radial; perianth parts, especially petals, overlapped, twisted to right or left, at least in bud; sepals generally 5, fused at base, often reflexed, persistent; petals generally 5, fused in basal ± 1/2; stamens generally 5, attached to corolla tube or throat, alternate lobes, free or fused to form filament column and anther head, filament column then generally with 5 free or fused, ± elaborate appendages abaxially, pollen ± free or removed in pairs of pollinia; nectaries 0 or near ovaries, then 2 or 5[10], or in stigmatic chambers; ovaries 2, superior or ± so, free [fused]; style tips, stigmas generally fused into massive pistil head. Fruit: 1–2 follicles, (capsule), [berry, drupe]. Seed: many, often with tuft of hairs at 1 or both ends.
200–450 genera, 3000–5000 species: all continents, especially tropics, subtropical South America, southern Africa; many ornamental (including Asclepias, Hoya, Nerium, Plumeria, Stapelia); cardiac glycosides, produced by some members formerly treated in Asclepiadaceae, used as arrow poisons, in medicine to control heart function, and by various insects for defense. [Fishbein 2001 Ann Missouri Bot Gard 88:603–623] Asclepiadaceae ("asclepiads"), although monophyletic, included in Apocynaceae because otherwise the latter is paraphyletic. Complexity of floral structure, variation in asclepiads arguably greatest among all angiosperms. Pattern of carpel fusion (carpels free in ovule-bearing region, fused above), present ± throughout Apocynaceae (in broad sense), nearly unknown in other angiosperms. Base chromosome number generally 11; abundance of latex, generally small size of chromosomes evidently have impeded cytological investigations. —Scientific Editor: Bruce G. Baldwin.
Unabridged references: [Civeyrel et al. 1998 Molec Phylogen Evol 9:517–527; Rosatti 1989 J Arnold Arbor 70:307–401]

Key to Apocynaceae

Perennial herb [shrub]. Stem: twining [prostrate to erect]. Leaf: opposite; blade ovate, cordate, hastate [round]. Inflorescence: at nodes, flowers 1–2peduncles < pedicels or 0 [raceme-, umbel-, or panicle-like cyme]. Flower: corolla spreading to ± erect, ring of tissue at base 0; filament column appendages fused into 5-lobed, cup- or plate-like structure around anther head [free], attached to base of filament column, each with a vertical, flap-like projection fused to filament column, forming compartments within cup [projections otherwise or 0], solid (margins fused to those of adjacent filament column appendages), anthers fused into anther head around and fused to pistil head, pollen in pollinia; pistil head flat; nectaries in stigmatic chambers. Fruit: erect or pendent, fusiform to lance-ovoid or ovoid, smooth, with tubercles [longitudinal wings].
2n=22 (reports not including California plants).
In broad sense of genus, 200 species: tropics, warm temperate America. [Ezcurra & Belgrano 2007 Syst Bot 32:856–861]
Unabridged references: [Krings & Saville 2007 Syst Bot 32:862–871; Liede-Schumann & Meve 2006; Stevens 1976 Diss Abstr B 37(2):587]

M. parvifolia (Torr.) Woodson SPEARLEAF
Stem: slender, much branched, to 0.5 m. Leaf: blade generally << 1 cm. Flower: corolla with acute, turned out tooth in each sinus between lobes, ± green or purple. Fruit: ± 7 cm, with fine longitudinal grooves.
Dry rocky areas; 700–1000 m. Desert; to Nevada, Texas, Baja California. [Gonolobus californicus Jeps.] Mar–May [Online Interchange] {CNPS list}

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Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2013. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Nov 26 2015
Citation for this treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] 2013. Matelea, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Nov 26 2015

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click for enlargement Matelea parvifolia
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© 2005 Aaron Schusteff

Geographic subdivisions indicated for the distribution of Matelea parvifolia Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.