Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Asclepiadaceae, Milkweed Family
(Sub-family within family Apocynaceae)

Asclepiadaceae, commonly known as the Milkweed Family is now subfamily Asclepiadoideae in the larger Apocynaceae Family.

Milkweeds include perennial forb/herbs, several twining bushes and shrub, lianas and seldom trees. The type species is Asclepias. In addition to Asclepias, this family includes the Stapeliae with their strange "rotted meat" or "carrion" fragrance that attracts flies necessary to pollinate the flowers and leafless stem succulents.

Family characteristics; leaves opposite, simple, entire, latex production; highly structured floral structure (specific pollen vectors).

Members of this family can be found in the tropics, subtropics (Africa and South America) and temperate areas.

There are over 190 accepted species in Asclepias. The entire Asclepiadoideae contain about 350 genera and 2,900 species. In North America there are 43 Genera and 170 accepted taxa overall.

References: Family profile completed: 03/05/2015 - updated 01/12/2020
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database – ITIS search
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 11/07/2015).
Wikipedia contributors, 'Asclepiadoideae', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 12 December 2014, 03:43 UTC, [accessed 5 April 2015]
Wikipedia contributors, 'Apocynaceae', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 5 March 2015, 20:48 UTC, [accessed 5 April 2015]
Hugh Wilson, Professor; 2010, Herbarium, Department of Biology, Texas A&M University.