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Last updated: 16.10.2004 


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What are asclepiads?

Asclepiadaceae (abbreviation asclepiads) is a large and diverse plant family (Milkweed Family) which comprises about 240 genera and almost 3,400 species. They are mostly shrubs, climbers and perennial herbs with milky sap, some cactus-like, widely distributed in tropical and sub-tropical regions with a few in temperate climates.

Even though Asclepiadaceae was subsumed under the Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family) on the basis of recent molecular studies in 2000, on most asclepiads related web sites the family will continue to be considered as a separate plant family for more or less pragmatical reasons. Moreover flower biological characteristics still argue strongly for a seperation from the Apocynaceae Family.

nevitably interest has centred around the most ornamental succulent asclepiads: Stapelia, Caralluma, Hoodia, Huernia and other stapeliads (Carrion Flowers), as well as Ceropegias (Lantern Flowers), Hoyas (Wax Flowers), Dischidias, etc. although other mainly non-succulent members of the family are not neglected as Asclepias and Cynanchum. Some asclepiads are even used as medicinal plants: Asclepias fruticosa (general ache in the body and stomach pain), Hoodia gordonii (appetite suppresant), Xysmalobium undulatum (diarrhoea and colic), etc.

Asclepiad Cultivation


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