Every dog has its day, and it's today that the dogbane family gets a front and center post. It all started when I went out in my backyard this morning, marveling at the beautiful, vining Stephanotis in bloom. At the same time, the large seed pods of this plant have ripened, going from a smooth green pod, to a yellower, wrinklier version, and some have split open. Inside are lots and lots of tightly packed seeds, each with a silky sail. The seeds and pods so reminded me of milkweed, I had to get online to see if they were in the same family. And indeed, they are. Milkweed used to belong to its own family, but has recently been reclassified in a subfamily of the family Apocynaceae, (pronounced a-pos-ih-NAY-see-ee, or a-pos-ih-NAY-see-eye) the dogbane family. Dogbane members often (but not always) have a milky sap, which can be poisonous. Their leaves are simple (meaning the blade is whole - not divided into leaflets), and often opposite to each other (two leaves arise on opposite sides of the stem from the same node) or whorled (several leaves arise from the same level on the stem and encircle it). The petals may be fused or partially fused, and are usually five-lobed.
With this general information, I began to look around my yard, and the plants in the neighborhood, thinking about which might be related. And, wow, it turns out many of our tropical ornamentals are in the dogbane family. I immediately thought of the crown flower, the plumeria and the yellow allamanda, a vining plant with yellow trumpet-like flowers, and yup - they're all in the family. Add to that list the natal plum, the Madagascar periwinkle, vinca, the be-still tree, maile, oleander, and mandevilla - and there's plenty more. Seems the neighborhood has gone to the dogs.
welcomes you to visit with the all the wonderful flora and fauna that we share this lovely aina with.