Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Apocynum androsaemifolium - Spreading Dogbane



Possibly Toxic

"All the dogbanes are poisonous and have sometimes caused serious losses to livestock. Apparently the sticky, milky juice helps to render them unpalatable, since animals seldom eat the plants fresh, although they do sometimes consume them dry in hay. However, deaths to livestock from eating dogbane are rare. All species of dogbane should be avoided as food.[Harrington] All parts of the plant are poisonous[1, 62]." [PFAF]

"Moore (1979) states that A. cannabinum is significantly more dangerous than A. androsaemifolium, and that the plants are not to be used interchangeably. Duke (1985) concurs that the two plants must not be confused." [Pendell PPPHC]

"In spite of the widespread use of Apocynum androsaemifolium by American Indian tribes for a wide variety of ailments, Duke states frankly that he is afraid of this cardiotonic plant. As Duke's many years of research have proved him to be a man not easily frightened, I have put my own longstanding interest in both of these plants on hold, pending more chemical and biological studies." [Pendell PPPHC]

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

"Spreading dogbane is an unpleasantly bitter stimulant irritant herb that acts on the heart, respiratory and urinary systems, and also on the uterus[238]. It was widely employed by the native North American Indians who used it to treat a wide variety of complaints including headaches, convulsions, earache, heart palpitations, colds, insanity and dizziness[257]. It should be used with great caution, and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner if taking this plant internally[21, 238]. [PFAF] Used "For rheumatism, scrofula and syphilis." [CRNAH]



Uses of other species

Identification and Taxonomic Notes

1. Corollas greenish-white to white, 2-4.5 mm long, usually less than twice as long as the calyces; leaves ascending................. Apocynum cannabinum

1. Corollas pinkish, 3.5-10 mm long, usually more than twice as long as the calyces; leaves spreading to drooping.

2. Calyces usually at least half as long as the corollas, lobes abruptly sharp-pointed to long-pointed ............................Apocynum x floribundum
2. Calyces usually less than half as long as the corollas, lobes obtuse .....................Apocynum androsaemifolium

Local Species;

  1. Apocynum androsaemifolium - Spreading Dogbane
  2. Apocynum cannabinum - Hemp Dogbane
  3. Apocynum x floribundum - Western Dogbane

"Dogbanes [Apocynum L. spp.] are creeping-rooted, erect and branching perennials. They have oblong or lanceolate opposite leaves and clusters of small, pink, bell-shaped flowers which produce long, slender pods containing numerous seeds with tufts of silky hairs. The stems and leaves contain a milky latex. Dogbanes are commonly found on abandoned fields, road cuts, dry meadows and open wooded areas. They generally occur on sandy or gravelly soils, especially in pine forests. Dogbanes contain several toxic cardiac glycosides, including cymarin, which affect the excitability of the cardiac muscle. Animals may die of cardiac failure. The plants are unpalatable, and ingestion is unlikely except when animals are starving." [Majak SPPWC]


Page last modified on Thursday, June 11, 2020 6:39 AM