|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Apocynaceae (from the genus Apocynum, the ancient name of the dogbane, from the Greek). DogBane Family. Fig. 49. Herbs, shrubs or trees with milky juice, often climbing: leaves opposite or whorled, rarely alternate, entire, exstipulate: flowers bisexual, regular; calyx 4-5-parted; corolla 4-5-lobed, hypogynous, gamopetalous, usually with appendages or folds in the throat, convolute or valvate; stamens 4-5, epipetalous, alternating with the corolla lobes; anthers usually sagittate and acute; pollen granular; hypogynous disk usually present and variously lobed; ovaries usually 2, rarely more or less united; mostly superior, each 1-celled, many-seeded, style 1, usually bearing a fleshy ring below the solitary stigma: fruit follicular with comose seeds, or indehiscent, or berry-like, or of nutlets, sometimes winged or prickly.
One hundred and thirty genera and about 1,000 species occur, mostly in tropical countries in both hemispheres. Five or 6 species reach northeastern North America. The family is related to the Asclepiadaceae and Gentianaceae. The milky juice, sagittate anthers, absence of corona, stylar ring, and usually separate ovaries but connate styles and stigmas, are important characteristics.
Many species of Landolphia yield commercial caoutchouc, as do also other genera, such as Urceola and Willoughbya. Some are very poisonous, e. g., Tanghinia of Madagascar; also Cerbera and Acocanthera. Tanghinia, the ordeal tree of Madagascar, "is the most poisonous of plants; a seed no larger than an almond suffices to kill twenty people." Death has followed the use of oleander wood as meat-skewers. An infusion of its leaves is an insecticide; of its bark, a rat-poison. Some are heart-poisons, for example Strophanthus and Aspidosperma (quebracho bark). The bark of Alstonia is a tonic. Allamanda cathartica is purgative. Several species furnish edible fruits tasting like citron. Wrightia tinctoria furnishes an indigo; W. tomentosa, a yellow dye.
About 20 to 25 genera are in cultivation in N. America as ornamental plants, mostly in the South or in the greenhouse. Among these are: Allamanda; Carissa (Caraunda, Christ’s Thorn); Amsonia; Apocynum (Dogbane); Nerium (Oleander); Tabernaemontana (Crape Jasmine, Nero's Crown); Trachelospermum (Star Jasmine); and Vinca (Periwinkle).CH
The family, as currently recognized, includes some 1500 species divided in about 424 generawp.
The following genera used to belong to the family Asclepiadaceaewp:
- Asclepias (subfamily Asclepiadoideae)
- Periploca (Subfamily Periplocoideae)
Large Periwinkle Vinca major, a popular garden plant
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963