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Flaigg, Norman G.
Apocynum cannabinum L.
Indian hemp, Prairie dogbane, Dogbane, Hemp dogbane
Synonym(s): Apocynum cannabinum var. angustifolium, Apocynum cannabinum var. glaberrimum, Apocynum cannabinum var. greeneanum, Apocynum cannabinum var. hypericifolium, Apocynum cannabinum var. nemorale, Apocynum cannabinum var. pubescens, Apocynum cannabinum var. suksdorfii, Apocynum hypericifolium, Apocynum pubescens, Apocynum sibiricum, Apocynum sibiricum var. cordigerum, Apocynum sibiricum var. farwellii, Apocynum sibiricum var. salignum, Apocynum suksdorfii, Apocynum suksdorfii var. angustifolium
USDA Symbol: APCA
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
The strong, erect, purplish stem of Indian-hemp rises 3-4 ft., with branches ascending from the upper part. Long oval leaves often have a white coating or bloom as found on plums. Small cream-colored flowers are clustered at branch ends or on stalks from leaf axils. Tufted seeds form in spindle-shaped pods.
Women of some tribes rolled dogbane stem fibres on their legs to make fine thread, said to be finer and stronger than the best cotton thread. It was used for sewing and for making twine, nets, fabric and bowstrings. A number of varieties occur across the continent. This species can become a serious weed as it is aggressive and difficult to control.
Once thought to be a larval food for Monarch butterflies, research has shown that while adult female Monarchs will occasionally oviposit on this species, their offspring will not mature on it.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Root Type: Tap Leaf:
Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug
, WY Canada: NB
, QC Native Distribution:
Throughout the U.S.; scattered in Canada Native Habitat:
Roadsides; thickets; fields; lakeshores; waterways; disturbed areas
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
High Light Requirement:
Part Shade Soil Moisture:
Moist CaCO3 Tolerance:
Medium Soil Description:
Various soils. Conditions Comments:
A number of varieties occur across the continent. This species can become a serious weed
as it is aggressive and difficult to control. Use only in large areas.
BenefitUse Food: Chewing gum from hardened sap.
Use Medicinal: Amerindians used berries and root in weak teas for heart ailments, diuretic. Induces sweating and vomiting; laxative. and as wash to prevent hair loss. Used in headaches with sluggish bowels, liver disease, indigestion, rheumatism. Chickasaws and Choctaws chewed fresh root, swallowing only juice as a specific for syphilis.
Use Other: Widely used among aboriginal people for cordage. Very sturdy bast fibers.
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts, fresh or dry. Highly Toxic, May be Fatal if eaten. Symptom: Cardiac arrest. Toxic Principle: Resins and cardiac glycosides.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Nectar Source: yes
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Native host plants for Painted Lady Butterfly
June 01, 2006
I am looking for host plants for the Painted Lady Butterfly that I can plant in my school's (I am a teacher) native plant/butterfly garden. As part of the curriculum, each spring the 1st grade raises...
view the full question and answer
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Suppliers Directory
According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
Toadshade Wildflower Farm
- Frenchtown, NJ
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
- Santa Barbara, CA
Herbarium Specimen(s)NPSOT 0607
Collected May 13, 1992 in Medina County by Harry Cliffe
Record Last Modified: 2013-09-03
Research By: TWC Staff