Gomphocarpus stenophyllus

Gomphocarpus stenophyllus, a species of Asclepiadaceae, from Rift Valley, Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens

Observed blooming and with mature fruit/seed on a rocky hillside subjected to heavy grazing. Eldoret, Kenya, Africa. December 2012.

The latex sap deters most herbivores. Phymaeus grasshoppers, however, have mechanisms to deal with the sticky latex as well as the toxic compounds present in the foliage. These colorful insects can often be found on the plants (click the thumb-link for more information).

Milkweed Grasshopper

Milkweed Grasshopper

FLOWERS: Pale, butter-yellow flowers have well a developed corona. Five petals and five sepals. About 8 mm across. The umbellate flowers are supported on long, curving peduncles.

SHRUB: Woody shrub with spreading stems, green and white-tomentose at first, maturing to brown and mostly smooth.

FRUIT: Paired or solitary pods on each peduncle, broad at base and tapering gradually towards a long tip. Mostly smooth, without bristles or tubercles. The seeds have a fluff of bright, silky-white filaments on top and with these wind will disperse the seeds.

LEAVES: Linear leaves. Bright white latex emerges from breaks.

RANGE: This shrub was prevalent on a rocky slope used heavily for grazing animals. Location was about 15 km west of Eldoret.

fruit of Gomphocarpus, Asclepiadaceae, photo © Michael Plagens  

Apocynaceae -- Asclepiadaceae Milkweed and Dogbane Family

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, Created on 13 March 2013,
updated 13 December 2013