The Apocynaceae sensu lato (including Asclepiadaceae) is one of the ten largest angiosperm families with about 4000 species in about 425 genera. It is found throughout the world although is very much more diverse in the tropics.
Species of Apocynaceae range from large forest trees to small understorey trees and shrubs and from small twiners to large lianas. There are only a few herbs in the family and some species of the former Asclepiadaceae are succulents. They are important in the pharmaceutical and horticultural industries.
Research in this family was conducted by David Middleton who has concentrated on taxonomic research within subfamilies Rauvolfioideae and Apocynoideae, the two subfamilies which constituted the traditionally defined Apocynaceae. He has revised many of the genera in Asia and completed accounts for the Flora of Thailand, the Tree Flora of Sabah and Sarawak, Flora Malesiana, the Flore du Cambodge, du Laos et du Vietnam, and the Flora of Peninsular Malaysia.
A collaborative research project with Tatyana Livshultz of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia elucidated some of the phylogenetic relationships within Apocynaceae subfamily Apocynoideae. A better understanding of this subfamily should lead to a clearer picture of the evolution of the complex floral morphologies of the species of subfamilies Periplocoideae, Secamonoideae and Asclepiadoideae, all of which are nested in Apocynoideae.
For further information please contact David Middleton who currently works in Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Middleton, D.J. (1999). Apocynaceae. Flora of Thailand 7(1): 1-152
Middleton, D.J. (2000). Revision of Alyxia (Apocynaceae). Part 1: Asia and Malesia. Blumea 45: 1-146
Middleton, D.J. (2002). Revision of Alyxia (Apocynaceae). Part 2: Australia and Pacific Islands. Blumea 47: 1-93
Middleton, D.J. (2003). A revision of Dyera (Apocynaceae, Rauvolfioideae). Gardens Bulletin Singapore 55: 209-217
Middleton, D.J. (2004). A revision of Kopsia Blume (Apocynaceae: Rauvolfioideae). Harvard Papers in Botany 9: 91-144
Middleton, D.J. (2004). Apocynaceae. Tree Flora of Sabah and Sarawak vol. 5: 1-61
Middleton, D.J. (2005). A revision of Epigynum (Apocynaceae: Apocynoideae). Harvard Papers in Botany 10: 67-81
Middleton, D.J. (2005). A revision of Wrightia (Apocynaceae: Apocynoideae) in Malesia. Harvard Papers in Botany 10: 161-182
Middleton, D.J. (2007). Apocynaceae, subfamilies Rauvolfioideae and Apocynoideae. Flora Malesiana 18: 1-471
Livshultz, T., Middleton, D.J., Endress, M.E. & Williams. J. (2007). Phylogeny of Apocynoideae and the APSA clade. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 94: 323-361