Apocynaceae

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Dogbane Family

Mandevilla hirsuta (Rich.) K. Schum., a vine in the Apocynaceae. Note the opposite leaves without stipules. Copious white latex is a good character for this family. Un bejuco. Note las hojas opuestas sin estípulas. Savia blanca abundante es una característica de esta familia.


Description: A large family of herbs, vines, lianas, shrubs, and trees, with usually opposite leaves (Aspidosperma is alternate) and copious white latex. Opposite-leaved Apocynaceae can be confused with Clusiaceae, but they differ in that the opposite-leaved genera of Apocynaceae never have colorful latex (Aspidosperma, again an oddball, can have orange or reddish latex). Aspidosperma might be superficially confused with Moraceae, but Apocynaceae lack stipules. It also might be confused with Sapotaceae, but Aspidosperma lacks the swollen petiole base of Sapotaceae.

The Asclepidiaceae (milkweed family) is now included in Apocynaceae, since phylogenetic analysis has shown that Asclepidiaceae are nested in Apocynaceae (Stevens 2005). The Asclepiadaceae genera at La Selva are Asclepias, Fischeria, Gonolobus, Matelea, and Tassadia, herbs and weedy vines.

Economic uses: Some species of Allamanda, Vinca, and Thevetia are widely cultivated as ornamentals. The white latex of most Apocynaceae is loaded with alkaloids which may turn out to have pharmaceutical applications. Compounds from several Vinca species are already used as anti-cancer drugs.


Descripción: Una familia rica en especies de hierbas, bejucos, arbustos, y árboles, usualmente con hojas opuestas (alternas en Aspidosperma) y savia blanca abundante. Las Apocynaceas con hojas opuestas se pueden confundir con las Clusiaceas, pero las Apocynaceas en esta categoría nunca tienen savia rojiza (Aspidosperma, de nuevo un género atípico, puede tener savia anaranjada o rojizo). Se puede confundir Aspidosperma con las Moraceas, pero las Apocynaceas carecen de estípulas. También se puede confundir este género con las Sapotaceas, pero los pecíolos de las Apocynaceas no tienen la base hinchado como las Sapotaceas.

La familia Asclepiadaceae ahora está incluida con las Apocynaceas al demostrarse en análisis filogenéticos que el grupo Asclepiadaceae se originó a partir de las Apocynaceas (Stevens 2005). Los géneros de Asclepiadaceas en La Selva son Asclepias, Fischeria, Gonolobus, Matelea, y Tassadia, hierbas y bejucos herbosos.

Usos económicos: Se cultivan varias especies de Allamanda, Vinca, y Thevetia como ornamentales. La savia blanca de la mayoría de las Apocynaceas contiene una alta concentración de alcaloides con potenciales aplicaciones farmacéuticas. Químicos provenientes de unas especies de Vinca se usan para tratamientos anti-cáncer.


Genera/species at La Selva: 17/28: Herbs/ hierbas: Asclepias (1) Vines or lianas/ bejucos: Allamanda (1), Allomarkgrafia (1), Fischeria (1), Forsteronia (1), Gonolobus (1), Mandevilla (2), Matelea (1), Mesechites (1), Odontadenia (3), Prestonia (4), Vinca (1) Shrubs or trees/ arbustos o árboles: Aspidosperma (1), Lacmellea (1), Rauvolfia (2), Stemmadenia (3), Tabernaemontana (2), Thevetia (1).


FIELD MARKS – opposite or alternate, simple leaves with coleters (hollow space in petiole with finger-like projections visible with hand lens), anisophylly (when leaves opposite, one will be larger than the other), milky or watery exudation (highly toxic!), fruits often paired, flowers with a twist to the corolla (somewhat like a soft-serve ice cream cone).


Stemmadenia with opposite leaves and white exudate.
Plumeria (not found at La Selva) showing white exudations.
Cascabela thevetia (cultivar not found at La Selva) – flower with characteristic twist to corolla.
Note the twist to the corolla.
Stemmadenia donnell-smithii with opposite leaves and the paired fruits that give rise to the common name “Huevos de caballo” (horse’s balls).
Paired fruits of Stemmadenia donnell-smithii.


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Next family: Araceae > >
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