From Academic Kids

Dogbane family
Missing image
Alyxia oliviformis

Alyxia oliviformis
Scientific classification

See Taxonomy and Genera

The Family Apocynaceae or dogbane family of flowering plants includes trees, shrubs, herbs, or lianas. Many species are tall trees found in the tropical rainforest, and most are from the tropics and subtropics--but some come from Tropical dry, xeric environments. There are also some perennial herbs from temperate zones. Many of these plants have milky sap; and many species are poisonous if ingested. As to some genera of Apocynaceae, some as Adenium however, have both clear and wilky, latex sap; whereas Pachypodium always have clear sap.



The family, as currently recognized, includes some 1500 species divided in about 424 genera. The family Asclepiadaceae is now, according to AGP II included in the Apocynaceae (Endress & Bruyn, 2000). However, the family Asclepiadaceae retains the epithet 'nom. cons.' (= name to be retained).

There are five subfamilies:

  • Rauvolfioideae
  • Apocynoideae
  • Periplocoideae
  • Secamonoideae
  • Asclepiadoideae

The last three subfamilies used to belong to the Asclepiadaceae.


Wrightia antidysenterica
Wrightia antidysenterica

Species in this family are distributed mainly in tropical regions:

  • In the rainforests and swamps of India and Malaya: small to very tall evergreen trees, often with buttress roots, such as Alstonia and Dyer.
  • In northern Australia: small evergreen trees such as Cerbera and Ochrosia.
  • In deciduous forests of Africa and India: smaller trees such as Carissa, Wrightia and Holarrhena.
  • In tropical America, India, Myanmar and Malaya: evergreen trees and shrubs, such as Rauwolfia, Tabernaemontana and Acokanthera.
  • In Central America: Plumeria, or the frangipani, with its waxy white or pink flowers and a sweet scent.
  • In South America, Africa and Madagascar: many lianas such as Landolphia.
  • In the Mediterranean region: Nerium, with the well-known oleander or Be-still tree (Nerium oleander).
  • The only genera found in temperate Europe away from the Mediterranean are Vinca (Apocynoideae) and Vincetoxicum (Asclepiadoideae).
  • In North America: Apocynum, dog bane or Indian hemp, including Apocynum cannabinum, a traditional source of fiber.
  • In Continent Southern Africa--Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe--AND Madgascar, except for the humid Evergreen Forest of the Eastern side of Island and Never above 2000 m for the entire Island: Pachypodium.


The leaves are simple, usually opposite and decussate, or whorled; lacking stipules. Flowers are usually showy, radially symmetrical (actinomorphic), aggregated in cymose or racemose inflorescences (rarely fasciculate or solitary). They are perfect (bisexual), with a synsepalous, 5-lobed calyx. Inflorescences are terminal or axillary. The stamens are inserted on the inside of the corolla tube. The ovary is usually superior.

The fruit is a drupe, a berry, a capsule or a follicle.



Acokanthera Adenium Aganonerion Aganosma
Alafia Allamanda Allomarkgrafia Allowoodsonia
Alstonia Alyxia Amocalyx Ambelania
Amsonia Ancylobotrys Anechites Angadenia
Anodendron Apocynum Arduina Artia
Asketanthera Aspidosperma Baissea Beaumontia
Bousigonia Cabucala Callichilia Calocrater
Cameraria Carissa Carpodinus Carruthersia
Carvalhoa Catharanthus Cerbera Cerberiopsis
Chamaeclitandra Chilocarpus Chonemorpha Cleghornia
Clitandra Condylocarpon Couma Craspidospermum
Crioceras Cycladenia Cyclocotyla Cylindropsis
Delphyodon Dewevrella Dictyophleba Dipladenia
Diplorhynchus Dyera Ecdysanthera Echites
Elytropus Epigynium Eucorymbia Farquharia
Fernaldia Forsteronia Funtumia Galactophora
Geissospermum Gonioma Grisseea Hancornia
Haplophyton Himatanthus Holarrhena Hunteria
Hymenolophus Ichnocarpus Isonema Ixodonerium
Kamettia Kibatalia Kopsia Lacmellea
Landolphia Laubertia Laxoplumeria Lepinia
Lepiniopsis Leuconotis Lochnera Lyonsia
Macoubea Macropharynx Macrosiphonia Malouetia
Mandevilla Mascarenhasia Melodinus Mesechites
Micrechtites Microplumeria Molongum Mortoniella
Motandra Mucoa Neobracea Neocouma
Nerium Nouettea Ochrosia Odontadenia
Oncinotis Orthopichonia Pachypodium Pachouria
Papuechites Parahancornia Parameria Parepigynum
Parsonsia Peltastes Pentalinon Petchia
Picralima Plectaneia Pleiocarpa Pleioceras
Plumeria Pottsia Prestonia Pycnobotrya
Quiotania Rauwolfia Rhabdadenia Rhazya
Rhigospira Rhodocalyx Rhyncodia Saba
Salpinctes Schizozygia Secondatia Sindechites
Skytanthus Spirolobium Spongiosperma Stemmadenia
Stephanostegia Stephanostema Stipecoma Strempeliopsis
Strophanthus Tabernaemontana Tabernanthe Temnadenia
Thenardia Thevetia Tintinnabularia Trachelospermum
Urceola Urnularia Vahadenia Vallariopsis
Vallaris Vallesia Vinca Voacanga
Willughbeia Woytkowskia Wrightia Xylinabaria

The following genera used to belong to the family Asclepiadaceae :


Missing image
Large Periwinkle Vinca major, a popular garden plant

Several plants of this family had economic uses in the past.

The genera Carpodinus, Landolphia, Hancornia, Funtumia and Mascarenhasia were an inferior commercial source of rubber.

The juice of Acokanthera species such as A. venenata and the milky juice of the Namibian Pachypodium has been used as venom for arrow tips by the Bushmen. Some sources (Rapananrivo et al. on p. 5) state that Pachypodium do not have a milky sap--i.e. a milky juice of a Nambian Pachypodium. (This statement needs clarification accordingly)

The following genera are ornamental plants: Amsonia (bluestar), Nerium (oleander), Vinca (periwinkle), Carissa (Natal plum, an edible fruit), Allamanda (golden trumpet), Plumeria (frangipani), Thevetia (lucky nut), Mandevilla (Savannah flower).

Rauvolfia cafra is the Quinine tree. Rauvolfia serpentina or Indian Snakeroot yields the alkaloids reserpine and rescinnamine.

Some are sources of drugs, such as cardiac glycosides, affecting the heart function: Acokanthera, Apocynum, Cerbera, Nerium, Thevetia and Strophantus.

The genus Apocynum was used as a source of fiber by Native Americans.


  • Endress and Bruyn. 2000. A revised classification of the Apocynaceae. The Botanical Review, 66: 1-56
  • Rapanarivo, S.H.J.V; Lavranos, J.J; Leeuwenberg, A.J.M.; AND Röösli, W. ["Taxonomic revision of the genus Pachypodium." by S.H.J.V Rapanarivo and A.J.M Leeuwenberg]; ["The habitats of Pachyopdium species." by S.H.J.V Rapanarivo]; AND ["Cultivation" by W. Röösli] (A.A. Balkema: Rotterdam, Brookfeild, 1999 p. 5) ". . . Adenium species have either clear sap or white latex. Pachypodium has . . . always clear sap."

External link

de:Hundsgiftgewächse es:Apocynaceae eo:Apocinacoj fr:Apocynaceae it:Apocynaceae no:Gravmyrtfamilien zh:夾竹桃科


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