Family description

Herbs, climbers, epiphytes, lianas, shrubs and trees with white latex in stem and leaves.
Leaves mostly opposite or in whorls, but also simple, without toothed margin. Stipules absent.
Flowers with 5(4) free sepals, 5(4) petals usually fused into a narrow funnel or tube with spreading lobes, with the lobes often overlapping on one side, mostly white in colour. Stamens attached to the inside of the corolla tube. Ovary usually superior with 2 separate carpels united into a single style.
Fruits mostly dry and splitting lengthways (follicles), sometimes fleshy.
Seeds of dry fruits usually wind dispersed, with tufts of hair on both ends.

General info

Distribution Pan-tropical family with more than 415 genera and 4555 species.
Ecology Deciduous and evergreen forests, usually in the lowlands.
Uses Often grown as ornamentals (Asclepia is especially popular). Some are poisenous and have medicinal value.
Similar to Garcinia (Clusiaceae), but Garcinia always has opposite leaves and petioles that hide the twig tip, while also having wavy black pseudo-veins (laticifers) in the leaf blade; Fagraea (Loganiaceae) does not have the white latex.

Genera treated

  • Alstonia
  • Carissa
  • Rauvolfia
  • Tabernaemontana
  • Wrightia

Alstonia angustiloba

Carissa macrocarpa

Rauvolfia verticellata

Tabernaemontana macrocarpa

Wrightia pubescens