Flowers regular. Calyx 5-toothed. Corolla 5-lobed. Stamens usually 5 united round the stigma into a column. Ovary 2-celled, the carpels connate above. Seed-vessel of two follicles, with numerous seeds clothed with silky hairs. Leaves opposite, entire.

A large family, chiefly of tropical and sub-tropical trees and shrubs with milky juice. There are very few European species.

Vincetoxicum Moench

Corolla rotate, 5-lobed, with 5 internal scales. Stigma apiculate. About 80 species in the tropical or sub-tropical regions of both Old and New World.

Vincetoxicum Officinale Moench. (Cynanchum Vincetoxicum R.Br.). (Plate X)

A rather shrubby or straggling plant from 1 to nearly 3 feet high, finely pubescent, with creeping rootstock. Leaves opposite, entire, shortly petioled, the middle ones cordate-ovate, dark green in colour. Flowers small, dirty white or yellowish in axillary clusters, petioled. Follicles glabrous, very large (1 1/2-2 inches), lanceolate-acuminate, swollen towards the base, and when ripe showing beautiful silky seeds. Polymorphic.

Stony, thickety places, common in the plains and lower mountains. June to September.

Distribution

Europe, Caucasus, N. Africa. Widely spread throughout France and Switzerland.