Apocynum androsaemifolium L.
Spreading Dogbane, Bitterroot, Flytrap Dogbane
Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family)
Synonym(s): Apocynum ambigens, Apocynum androsaemifolium ssp. pumilum, Apocynum androsaemifolium var. glabrum, Apocynum androsaemifolium var. griseum, Apocynum androsaemifolium var. incanum, Apocynum androsaemifolium var. intermedium, Apocynum androsaemifolium var. pumilum, Apocynum androsaemifolium var. tomentellum, Apocynum androsaemifolium var. woodsonii, Apocynum pumilum, Apocynum pumilum var. rhomboideum, Apocynum scopulorum
USDA Symbol: APAN2
A 2-3 ft. widely branching, bushy, perennial with opposite, oval leaves and small groups of tiny, pink, bell-shaped flowers near the branch tips. The flowers’ fragrance is reminiscent of lilac. Numerous small pink, nodding, bell-like flowers, fragrant and striped inside with deeper pink. Milky juice exudes from broken stems and leaves.
These plants are relatives of the milkweeds. Indian Hemp (A. cannabinum), a slightly smaller species with erect clusters of greenish-white flowers, is also found in fields and is poisonous. Clasping-leaved Dogbane (A. sibiricum), found widely throughout the Northeast in sandy or gravelly habitats such as stream banks, has stalkless or nearly stalkless leaves.
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
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Ovate
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Apex: Acute
Leaf Base: Rounded
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Follicle
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.
Flower: Flowers 5-7 mm long.
Fruit: 15 cm.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
DistributionUSA: AK , AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC , SK
Native Distribution: Nf. to B.C., s. to GA mts. & AZ
Native Habitat: Forest, Woodland, Forest Edge, Prairie, Meadow, Field
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Sandy or gravelly soils.
Conditions Comments: Spreads so rapidly from creeping underground stems that it should not be used in small garden settings.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Bees
Use Other: 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.
Warning: The poisonous, acrid sap was said to stimulate hair growth by irritating the follicles, but people with sensitive skin are more likely to develop blisters than hair. (Kershaw)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant 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
PropagationCommercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Natural Biodiversity - Johnstown, PA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
BibliographyBibref 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 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
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
Web ReferenceWebref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 34 - Go Botany (2019) Native Plant Trust
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Apocynum androsaemifolium in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Apocynum androsaemifolium in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Apocynum androsaemifolium
MetadataRecord Modified: 2022-11-21
Research By: TWC Staff