Apocynum cannabinum L.
Indian hemp, Prairie dogbane, Hemp dogbane, Dogbane
Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family)
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
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.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Root Type: Tap
Size Class: 3-6 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , 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
Value to Beneficial InsectsSupports Conservation Biological Control
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
Learn more at BAMONA
Adult Food Source
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June 01, 2006
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National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Suppliers DirectoryAccording to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
Toadshade Wildflower Farm - Frenchtown, NJ
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Herbarium Specimen(s)NPSOT 0607 Collected May 13, 1992 in Medina County by Harry Cliffe
BibliographyBibref 610 - Edible wild plants of the prairie : an ethnobotanical guide (1987) Kindscher, K.
Bibref 417 - Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America (2000) Foster, S. & J. A. Duke
Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 1218 - Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources (2006) Anderson, M. Kat
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Apocynum cannabinum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Apocynum cannabinum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Apocynum cannabinum
MetadataRecord Modified: 2016-09-22
Research By: TWC Staff