This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(from Greek words referring to the beauty of parts of the flower). Asclepiadaceae. Milkweed-like shrubs, or small trees, grown in the American tropics and one species offered in southern California.
Branching, glabrous or tomentose-canescent: leaves opposite, subsessile, broad: flowers with 5-parted calyx glandular inside; corolla bell-shaped or somewhat rotate, 5-parted with broad lobes; crown of 5 narrow fleshy scales adnate to the staminal tube and free and recurved at the base; pollinia solitary in each cell, obovate-oblong and compressed, hanging from the apex: fruit short horned gibbous acuminate pods mostly in pairs; seeds with silky hairs. - Three species in tropical Asia and Africa, sometimes grown under glass in collections but in this country practically confined to the tropics. The bark of C. gigantea produces a strong fiber, and the acrid milky juice dries into a substance like gutta-percha. The silk on the seeds is used in fabrics by natives; that of C. procera is said to be exported from the Cape Verde Isls. as kapok (kapok is usually from the ceiba or silk-cotton tree).
R. Br. (Asclepias gigantea, Willd.). Giant Milkweed. Tree-like, 8-15 ft., with pale bark and woolly shoots: leaves obovate to broad wedge-shaped, entire, woolly beneath: flowers rose and purple, in simple or compound umbels with involucrate scales, the corolla-segments bent downwards and twisted with age: fruit 3-4 in. long; seeds broadly ovate. B.R. 58. India, and planted or escaped in W. Indies.
Dry. (Asclepias procera, Ait.). Shrub or bush, to 15 ft.: leaves more oblong and acute than those of C. gigantea, grayish: flowers white and purple in long-peduncled cottony umbels; corolla-lobes erect: fruit 4-5 in. long, recurved; seeds ovoid. B.R. 1792. India. -Offered in S. Calif., and said to be known in Porto Rico as Algodon de seda. L H. B.