Asclepiadaceae Cactus

The economic importance of the family includes the use of some species of Caralluma such as C. edulis, as green vegetables and the tubers of Ceropegia species as food.


The Indian subcontinent is one of the primary centres of genetic diversity for Ceropegia; here are about 45 indigenous species including both succulents with tuberous rootstocks and non-succulent herbaceous plants. The genus ranges from humid tropical regions to the temperate zone of the Himalayas with the chief centre of distribution in the Western Ghat mountains, from Maharashtra to Kerala. Most of the species are endemic to India and 27 species are endemic to peninsular India. Deforestation and overexploitation are among the many threats to these taxa causing some species, such as C. longifolia, C. wallichii, and C. macrantha in the sub-Himalayan tracts and Arvallis, to be on the verge of extinction. C. bulbosa is almost extinct from Delhi and the adjoining areas, and species reported from sub-Himalayan tracts have not been re-located in spite of repeated field trips to known localities. Immediate inventory, monitoring, and in situ conservation measures for these taxa are required along with ex situ conservation in botanic gardens (Babu 1994).

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