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Cynanchum aphyllum.JPG
In the foreground, Cynanchum aphyllum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Tribe: Asclepiadeae
Genus: Cynanchum

About 300, see text

    • Adelostemma Hook.f.
    • Aphanostelma Schltr.
    • Bunburia Harv.
    • Cyathella Decne.
    • Cynoctonum E.Mey.
    • Decanemopsis Costantin & Gallaud
    • Dicarpophora Speg.
    • Drepanostemma Jum. & H.Perrier
    • Exostegia Bojer ex Decne.
    • Flanagania Schltr.
    • Folotsia Costantin & Bois
    • Gilgia Pax
    • Glossonema Decne.
    • Graphistemma (Chapm. ex Benth.) Champ. ex Benth.
    • Holostemma R.Br.
    • Karimbolea Desc.
    • Mahafalia Jum. & H.Perrier
    • Mastostigma Stocks
    • Metalepis Griseb.
    • Metaplexis R.Br.
    • Monostemma Turcz.
    • Nematostemma Choux
    • Odontanthera Wight
    • Pentarrhinum E.Mey.
    • Perianthostelma Baill.
    • Petalostemma R.Br.
    • Platykeleba N.E.Br.
    • Prosopostelma Baill.
    • Psanchum Neck.
    • Pycnoneurum Decne.
    • Raphistemma Wall.
    • Roulinia Decne.
    • Rouliniella Vail
    • Sarcocyphula Harv.
    • Sarcostemma R.Br.
    • Sarmasikia Bubani
    • Schizocorona F.Muell.
    • Seshagiria Ansari & Hemadri
    • Sichuania M.G.Gilbert & P.T.Li
    • Steinheilia Decne.
    • Symphyoglossum Turcz.
    • Telminostelma E.Fourn.
    • Urostelma Bunge
    • Voharanga Costantin & Bois
    • Vohemaria Buchenau
    • Ziervoglia Neck.

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.[2]


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 throughout 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 (black swallowwort) and Cynanchum rossicum (pale swallowwort) are troublesome noxious weeds in parts of North America.[3][4]


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,[5][6] and old genera such as Raphistemma brought to synonymy.


Species include:[7]


  1. ^ "Cynanchum L." Plants of the World Online. Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 2017. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Plants for a Future Database".
  3. ^ NPS Alien Plants Fact Sheet
  4. ^ Krishna Ramanujan (2014) "Invasive vines swallow up New York’s natural areas." Cornell Chronicle, April 23, 2014.
  5. ^ Alan S. Weakley (April 2008). "Flora of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia, and Surrounding Areas".
  6. ^ Sigrid Liede and Angelika Tauber (Oct–Dec 2002). "Circumscription of the Genus Cynanchum (Apocynaceae-Asclepiadoideae)". Systematic Botany. 27 (4): 789–800. doi:10.1043/0363-6445-27.4.789. JSTOR 3093924.
  7. ^ "Cynanchum L." Plants of the World Online. The Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. n.d. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  8. ^ Bussmann R. W.; et al. (2006). "Plant use of the Maasai of Sekenani Valley, Maasai Mara, Kenya". J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2: 22. doi:10.1186/1746-4269-2-22. PMC 1475560. PMID 16674830.

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