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Family: Apocynaceae (Oleander, Frangipani, Periwinkle, Milkweed and asclepiad family)

[= Asclepiadaceae]

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Asterids > Euasterid I > Order: Gentianales

About 415 genera and 4555 species, native mainly to tropical and warm temperate regions, with 104 genera and 764 species native to southern Africa, an additional five genera and six species naturalised, and an additional 19 genera and 56 species that are cultivated in the region.

The family Asclepiadaceae has been included within the Apocynaceae where it has been relegated to the subfamily Asclepiadoideae. The asclepiads are treated separately here because they are such a distinctive group.

For Asclepiadoideae (asclepiads), see here.

Genera native to southern Africa (excluding Asclepiadoideae)

Information mainly from Victor et al. (2000) and Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).

Acokanthera

Five species, native from the Cape up through East Africa and across to the southern Arabian Peninsula. Four species are native to southern Africa.

Adenium

Five species, native to Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Socotra, with four species native to southern Africa.

 

Alafia

About 26 species, native to tropical Africa and Madagascar, with four species native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique).

 

Ancylobotrys

Ten species, native to Africa and Madagascar, with two species native to southern Africa.

Baissea

Eighteen species, native to Africa, with one species, Baissea wulfhorstii, native to southern Africa.

 

Callichilia

Seven species, native to Africa, with one species, Callichilia orientalis, native to southern Africa.

Carissa

About 20 species, native to Africa, Madagascar, the Mascarenes, Asia and Australia, with five species native to southern Africa.

Chlorocyathus

Two species native to southern Africa - Chlorocyathus lobulata and Chlorocyathus monteiroea

Cryptolepis

About 25 species, native to Africa, Madagascar and Asia, with eight species native to southern Africa.

Dictyophleba

Five species, native to tropical Africa, of which one Dictyophleba lucida is native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique). See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Diplorhynchus

One species: Diplorhynchus condylocarpon (Horn-pod tree), native to tropical Africa, with the distribution extending down into southern Africa. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Ectadium

Three species, endemic to the Namib Desert (Namibia), on arid coastal plains with fog.

Funtumia

Two species, occurring in tropical Africa, of which one Funtumia africana is native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique). See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Gonioma

One species: Gonioma kamassi, native to forests from the Western Cape through to Swaziland.

Holarrhena

Four species, native to Africa and Asia, with one species, Holarrhena pubescens (Fever pod), native to southern Africa. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Hunteria

Ten species, all native to tropical Africa, of which one Hunteria zeylanica occurs in southern Africa (specifically Mozambique).

Landolphia

About 55 species, native to Africa and the Mascarene Islands, with two species, Landolphia buchananii (recorded from Zimbabwe, see Flora of Zimbabwe) and Landolphia kirkii (see Flora of Zimbabwe), native to southern Africa. Two other native species previously placed in Landolphia now fall under Ancylobotrys.

Mascarenhasia

Twelve species in Madagascar, with one extending into Africa - Mascarenhasia arborescens. It occurs in southern Africa, in Zimbabwe and Mozambique; see Flora of Zimbabwe.

Mondia

Two species of liana, native to tropical Africa, one of which, Mondia whitei (see Flora of Zimbabwe), occurs in the tree canopy of riverine and swamp forest in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Oncinotis

Seven species, native to Africa and Madagascar, one of which, Oncinotis tenuiloba (= Oncinotis inandensis) (see Flora of Zimbabwe), occurs in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Pachypodium

Of the 18 species, 13 are native to Madagascar and five are native to arid regions of southern Africa. Two species from Madagascar are cultivated in the region.

 

Petopentia

One species: Petopentia natalensis, endemic to subtropical regions of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. 

Periploca

One species native to southern Africa: Periploca nigrescens (recorded from Zimbabwe).

Pleiocarpa

Three species, distributed in tropical Africa, of which one species is native to southern Africa: Pleiocarpa pycnantha (recorded from Zimbabwe). See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Pleioceras

Five species, occurring in tropical Africa, of which one species is native to southern Africa: Pleioceras orientale (recorded from Mozambique). See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Raphionacme

About 39 species, native to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with 22 species native to southern Africa.

Rauvolfia

About 60 species, pantropical, with two species, Rauvolfia caffra [= R. natalensis] (Quinine tree, see Flora of Zimbabwe) and Rauvolfia mombasiana (recorded from Mozambique, see Flora of Mozambique), native to southern Africa.

Saba

Three species, all native to tropical Africa, of which one Saba comorensis is native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique). See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Stomatostemma

Two species, native to Africa, one of which, Stomatostemma monteiroae, occurs in southern Africa.

Strophanthus

About 38 species, native to Asia, Africa and Madagascar, with eight species native to southern Africa (including Zimbabwe) and a further three species are cultivated in the region.

Strophanthus speciosus (Forest poison-rope, Forest tail-flower)

Tabernaemontana

About 110 species, occurring through the tropics, with three species native to southern Africa and a further two species that are cultivated in the region.

Tacazzea

Four species, native to Africa and Asia, one of which, Tacazzea apiculata, is native to southern Africa. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Voacanga

The 12 species are native to the Old World, with two species, Voacanga africana (recorded from Zimbabwe and Mozambique, see Flora of Zimbabwe) and Voacanga thouarsii [= Voacanga dregei] (Wild frangipani, see Flora of Zimbabwe), native to southern Africa (KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape).

Wrightia

About 23 species, native to the Old World, with one species, Wrightia natalensis, native to southern Africa. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

 

Genera naturalised in southern Africa (excluding Asclepiadoideae)

Information mainly from Victor et al. (2000) and Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).

Catharanthus (Madagascar Periwinkle genus)

One of the 8 species is native to India and Sri Lanka; the remaining 7 species are endemic to Madagascar. Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar Periwinkle) is cultivated in southern African gardens, but has also become a weed in warm, dry places (mainly in eastern parts of southern Africa).

Nerium (oleander genus)

The single species, Nerium oleander (Oleander), native to the eastern Mediterranean, is widely grown as a garden and roadside plant in southern Africa and has also become naturalised, especially along rocky, dry watercourses in semi-arid regions.

Nerium oleander 'Alba'

Vinca (periwinkles)

Vinca major (Greater periwinkle) (native from the Azores to Italy) is naturalised in southern Africa.

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa (excluding Asclepiadoideae)

List from Glen (2002).

Allamanda

About 14 species, native to tropical America. Three species are cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Alstonia

Two species cultivated: Alstonia macrophylla (native to Malaysia) and Alstonia venenata (native to India).

 

Beaumontia grandiflora

Native from India to Vietnam.

 

Cerbera venenifera (Tanghin)

Native to Madagascar.

 

Chonemorpha fragrans

Native from India to Malaysia.

 

Kopsia fruticosa

Native to Malaysia and Indonesia.

 

Mandevilla

Two species and one hybrid cultivated, Mandevilla laxa (Chilean jasmine), Mandevilla splendens (native to Brazil) and Mandevilla x amabilis.  

 

Ochrosia

Two species cultivated: Ochrosia elliptica (Pokosola) (native from Australia to New Caledonia) and Ochrosia sandwicensis (native to Hawaii).

 

Plumeria (Frangipani)

Seven to eight species, native to tropical and subtropical America. Three species are cultivated in southern African gardens:

Plumeria rubra (Common Frangipani)

Saba comorensis

Native from tropical Africa to Madagascar.

 

Stemmadenia litoralis (White-bell tree)

[= Stemmadenia bella, Stemmadenia galeottiana]

Native from Mexico to Guatemala.

 

Thevetia

Two species have been cultivated: Thevetia peruviana (Yellow oleander) (native from Mexico to Peru) and Thevetia thevetioides (native to Mexico). Thevetia peruviana is a declared Category 1 invasive plant in South Africa so cultivation is no longer permitted.

 

Trachelospermum jasminoides (Ke-teika-kazura)

Native to Japan, Korea and China.

 

Vallaris solanacea (Dudh kal)

Native from India to China.

 

Publications

  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated Plants of Southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.

  • Victor, J.E., Bredenkamp, C.L., Venter, H.J.T., Bruyns, P.V. & Nicholas, A. 2000. Apocynaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 71-98.. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

 

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