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Cynanchum aphyllum.JPG
In the foreground, Cynanchum aphyllum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Genus: Cynanchum

About 300, see text.

Cynanchum is a genus of about 300 species including some swallowworts, belonging to the family Apocynaceae. The taxon name comes from Greek kynos (meaning "dog") and anchein ("to choke"), hence the common name for several species is dog-strangling vine. Most species are non-succulent climbers or twiners. There is some evidence of toxicity.[1]


These plants are perennial herbs or subshrubs, often growing from rhizomes. The leaves are usually oppositely arranged and sometimes are borne on petioles. The inflorescences and flowers come in a variety of shapes.

Like other species of the milkweed family, these plants bear follicles, which are podlike dry fruits.


These species are found worldwide in the tropics and subtropics. Several species also grow in temperate regions.


The root of Cynanchum atratum is used in Chinese traditional medicine and called Bai wei. Several other species had traditional Chinese medicinal uses.

Cynanchum louiseae, the black swallowwort, is a troublesome noxious weed in parts of the northern United States.[2]


Cynanchum as defined in the late 20th century (to include about 400 species) is polyphyletic and is being broken up. Species are being moved to genera including Orthosia, Pentarrhinum, and Vincetoxicum, with a group of mostly Old World species staying in Cynanchum.[3][4]


Species include:[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Plants for a Future Database". 
  2. ^ NPS Alien Plants Fact Sheet
  3. ^ Alan S. Weakley (April 2008). "Flora of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia, and Surrounding Areas". 
  4. ^ Sigrid Liede and Angelika Tauber (Oct–Dec 2002). "Circumscription of the Genus Cynanchum (Apocynaceae-Asclepiadoideae)". Systematic Botany 27 (4): 789–800. JSTOR 3093924. 
  5. ^ Bussmann, R. W., et al. (2006). Plant use of the Maasai of Sekenani Valley, Maasai Mara, Kenya. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2 22.

External sources[edit]