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This genus is accepted, and its native range is America, Tropical & S. Africa.


Apocynaceae (part 2), David Goyder, Timothy Harris, Siro Masinde, Ulrich Meve, Johan Venter. Flora of Tropical East Africa, 2012

Morphology General Habit
Perennial herbs with annual stems arising from a tuber or fleshy taproot.
Morphology General Exudate
Latex white.
Morphology Stem
Stems prostrate to erect, simple or branched
Morphology Leaves
Leaves opposite
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences terminal or extra-axillary, nodding or erect, umbelliform, sessile or pedunculate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers 5-merous. Corolla divided almost to the base, lobes campanulate, spreading or reflexed. Corolline corona absent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corona
Gynostegial corona of 5 generally cucullate fleshy lobes arising from the staminal column in a staminal position; minute interstaminal lobes sometimes also present
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Pollinia
Pollinia pendant in anther cells; translator arms slender and terete or flattened, sometimes clearly geniculate, but never with a massively expanded proximal part and slender distal part.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Style
Stylar head rarely projecting much beyond top of anthers (but long-rostrate in A. longirostra)
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Follicles mostly single by abortion, generally held erect, smooth, occasionally ribbed or with lines of soft pubescent processes
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds ovate, discoid, with a coma of silky hairs.
In addition, many segregate genera have been recognised in the Old World. In the broad sense the Asclepias radiation comprises some 380–400 species. Molecular surveys of this group do not lend support to current generic delimitations (see Goyder et al. in Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 94: 423–434, 2007 and Fishbein et al. in Syst. Bot. 36: 1008–1023, 2011). However, they do not suggest a workable alternative, so the morphologically distinctive African segregate genera Margaretta, Stathmostelma, Gomphocarpus, Pachycarpus, Xysmalobium and Glossostelma have been maintained in this treatment. I can only echo N.E. Brown’s view on the subject published in his openly artificial treatment of the group for the F.T.A. 4(1): 299 (1902): “Undoubtedly Xysmalobium, Asclepias and Schizoglossum are but artificial divisions of one natural genus, since they cannot be separated by characters that do not break down at some point…” but he then goes on to say how he has allocated species to each. We have moved on considerably since then in recognising more natural units, but the phylogenetic structure is still inadequate for a stable reallignment of the group at generic level.

Native to:

Alabama, Alberta, Angola, Argentina Northeast, Argentina Northwest, Argentina South, Arizona, Arkansas, Bahamas, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, British Columbia, Burundi, California, Cameroon, Cape Provinces, Cayman Is., Central African Repu, Colombia, Colorado, Congo, Connecticut, Costa Rica, Cuba, Delaware, District of Columbia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Florida, Free State, French Guiana, Gabon, Galápagos, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kansas, Kentucky, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Leeward Is., Lesotho, Louisiana, Maine, Malawi, Manitoba, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Mozambique, Namibia, Nebraska, Netherlands Antilles, Nevada, New Brunswick, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Provinces, Nova Scotia, Ohio, Oklahoma, Ontario, Oregon, Panamá, Paraguay, Pennsylvania, Peru, Prince Edward I., Puerto Rico, Québec, Rhode I., Rwanda, Saskatchewan, South Carolina, South Dakota, Southwest Caribbean, Suriname, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tennessee, Texas, Trinidad-Tobago, Turks-Caicos Is., Uganda, Uganda, Uruguay, Utah, Venezuela, Venezuelan Antilles, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Windward Is., Wisconsin, Wyoming, Wyoming, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

Introduced into:

Altay, Andaman Is., Ascension, Assam, Austria, Baltic States, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Bismarck Archipelago, Borneo, Bulgaria, Burkina, Canary Is., Cape Verde, Caroline Is., Chagos Archipelago, Chile North, China South-Central, China Southeast, Cook Is., Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, East Aegean Is., East Himalaya, Fiji, France, Gilbert Is., Greece, Gulf of Guinea Is., Hainan, Hawaii, Hungary, India, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jawa, Kirgizstan, Kriti, Krym, Laos, Lesser Sunda Is., Madeira, Malaya, Marianas, Marshall Is., Mauritius, Morocco, Myanmar, Nansei-shoto, Nauru, Nepal, New Caledonia, New South Wales, Philippines, Poland, Queensland, Romania, Réunion, Samoa, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Society Is., Solomon Is., South Australia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibet, Tonga, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wallis-Futuna Is., West Himalaya, Western Australia, Yugoslavia

Asclepias L. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Sp. Pl.: 215 (1753)

Accepted by

  • Goyder, D.J. (2009). A synopsis of Asclepias (Apocynaceae: Asclepiadoideae) in tropical Africa Kew Bulletin 64: 369-399.
  • Govaerts, R. (1995). World Checklist of Seed Plants 1(1, 2): 1-483, 1-529. MIM, Deurne.


Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • K.B. 64: 369–399 (2009)
  • Sp. Plantarum: 214 (1753)

Art and Illustrations in Digifolia
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa

Interactive Key to Seed Plants of Malesia and Indo-China
The Malesian Key Group (2010) Interactive Key to Seed Plants of Malesia and Indo-China (Version 2.0, 28 Jul 2010) The Nationaal Herbarium Nederland Leiden and The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.