Jepson Flora Project: Jepson Interchange    

 
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ASCLEPIADACEAE

MILKWEED FAMILY

Carol A. Hoffman

Annual, perennial herb, shrub, vine; sap milky
Leaves simple, generally opposite or whorled; stipules 0 or small
Inflorescence: cyme, terminal or axillary, umbel- or raceme-like, or flower solitary
Flower bisexual, radial; sepals 5, generally reflexed; petals 5, generally reflexed or spreading; stamens 5, fused to form filament column and anther head, generally with 5 elaborate appendages on outside of filament column, pollen removed in pairs of massive sacs; ovaries 2, superior, free, style tips generally fused into massive pistil head surrounded by anther head
Fruit: follicle (1 ovary generally aborts)
Seeds many, ± flat, with tuft of silky hairs
Genera in family: 50–250 genera, 2000–3000 species: especially tropical, subtropical South America, s Africa; ornamental (Asclepias, Hoya, Stapelia). Cardiac glycosides produced by some; used as arrow poisons, in medicine to control heart contraction, and by some insects for defense
Recent taxonomic note: Recently treated to be included within Apocynaceae

CYNANCHUM

VINE MILKWEED

Perennial, shrub
Stem twining (elsewhere sometimes prostrate to erect)
Leaves opposite; blade linear to ovate
Inflorescence axillary, umbel- or raceme-like
Flower: corolla ± erect, ring of tissue at base 0; filament-column appendages 0 (elsewhere generally free); pistil head flat, conic, or with 2 lobes on top
Fruit generally erect, fusiform to narrowly ovoid
Species in genus: ± 200 species: temp, especially tropical
Etymology: (Greek: dog strangle, from ancient supposition of or use as dog poison)
Reference: [Sundell 1981 Evol Monogr 5:1–63]

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