Apocynaceae

The Apocynaceae, commonly known as the dogbane family, is a diverse and widespread group of flowering plants that encompasses a fascinating array of species, including trees, shrubs, herbs, stem succulents, and vines. This family is remarkable for its adaptability, thriving across various climates from the tropics to temperate zones, and is well-known for its distinctive milky latex—a characteristic shared by many of its members.

Apocynaceae, commonly known as the dogbane family, is a diverse family of flowering plants that includes trees, shrubs, herbs, stem succulents, and vines. The family is notable for its milky, often poisonous latex, and many species are known for their medicinal properties due to the presence of cardiac glycosides and various alkaloids.

  • Distribution: They are found across the European, Asian, African, Australian, and American tropics or subtropics, with some members also in temperate regions.
  • Diversity: The family comprises about 400 genera and approximately 4,555 species.
  • Morphology: Members of this family can be annual plants, perennial herbs, stem succulents, woody shrubs, trees, or vines. Most exude a milky latex when cut, and the leaves are typically simple and may appear singly or in pairs.
  • Flowers: They usually have radial symmetry and are borne in clusters, with a five-lobed calyx united into a tube at the base. The fruit is often a dry pod that splits open at maturity, releasing winged or tufted seeds.
  • Common Genera: Some well-known plants in this family include the periwinkle (Vinca), oleander (Nerium), and frangipani (Plumeria). Due to their attractive flowers and foliage, many Apocynaceae species are cultivated as ornamentals.
  • Ornamental: Many Apocynaceae species are cultivated for their attractive flowers and foliage.
  • Medicinal: Some plants, such as Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar periwinkle), have medicinal properties and are used in traditional and modern medicine. Catharanthus roseus is notably a source of alkaloids used in cancer treatment.
  • Toxicity: Some members, like Nerium oleander, are highly toxic if ingested and can be dangerous to humans and animals.
Apocynaceae Plants Type