The Apocynaceae family is also known as the dogbane family. It was names after the American dogbane or Apocynum cannabinum. This group of plants include over 2000 tropical and subtropical plants, including lianas, herbs, shrubs, and trees. Many popular ornamental plants are part of this group.
Some of the plants are the Oleander, Vinca, and Frangipani.
Included in the Apocynaceae family are five subfamilies: Apocynoideae, Asclepiadoideae, Periplocoideae, Rauvolfioideae, and Secamonoideae. Apocynaceae has actually come around as a joining of two families, the Apocynaceae sensu Stricto and the Asclepiadaceae.
Plants in this family usually have simple opposite leaves. These leaves may appear in an alternate or whorled pattern. Some of the stems in this family may be succulents with no leaves. The sap in each plant will appear milky and has toxic alkaloids or glycosides in it. Some of the sap is used to crate quinine, vincristine and cardiac glycosides. A traditional treatment for pleurisy comes from Asclepias tuberosum, or milkweed. Some of the sap from these plants has been used to create rubber. Bushmen use the sap from Pachypodium lealii, or the bottle tree for their poison arrows.
Many genera are used ornamentally such as Amsonia or bluestar, Nerium or oleander, Vica or periwinkle, Plumeria (frangipani and Adenium (desert-rose)
This family is bisexual or perfect. The calyx and corolla of this plant are five-lobed and have distinct stamen and anthers which face inwards and are usually united into a tube at the base. Inflorescences are terminal. The style is wider at the apex and creates a large clavuncle below the stigma. The ovary is superior, bicarpellary, and apocarpous . The fruit in this family is a berry, capsule, drupe or follicle. The fruit and seed pods are usually produced in pairs. The seeds are flat and winged or have hairs on one end.
Some species in this family find the pollen agglutinated into paired groups called pollinia. These are usually intact during pollination.
Apocynaceae appear mainly in the tropics. Alsonia, blackboard tree and Dyera, the jelatong are examples of small to tall evergreens with buttress roots. These are usually found in the rainforest and swamps of Indomalaya.
Smaller evergreens like Alsonia, Alyxia, and Cerbera can be found in Northern Australia.
In tropical America, India, Myanmar and Malaya, Rauvolfia, Tabernaemontana and Acokanthera are found. Lianas are generally found in South America, Africa and Madagascar.
The scientific classification for this family is Plantae; Angiosperms; Eudicots; Asterids; Gentianales, Apocynaceae.