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Spreading Dogbane Apocynum androsaemifolium


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Spreading Dogbane
credit: Emily S. Kloosterman/CCSA

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Family: Apocynaceae, Dogbane view all from this family

Description Native perennial forb. Height: to 40 inches. Habit: erect, opposite, many branches, may lack central stem. Smooth stems have milky sap when broken. Leaf: entire, pointed oval, spreading or drooping, hairy underneath, to 5 inches long by 2 inches wide. Flower: small, pink bells with 5 petals, 1/4-3/8" wide, erect or nodding. Fruit: paired, long, very narrow pod with seeds on silky hair.

Warning The stalks of this plant may be fatal to children if eaten. The plant can be fatal to animals if ingested. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.

Flower June to August.

Flower June - August

Habitat Dry, open areas and disturbed sites; riparian zones; shady moist areas with clay soils.

Range Found throughout the continental U.S. and Canada, except Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana and Kansas.

Discussion This plant is poisonous, and should not be confused with milkweed, which is edible. Compared to milkweed, spreading dogbane has branching stems, hairs on the underside of the leaves, and no hair on the stems.

Spreading dogpane hybridizes freely with other dogbanes. Also known as: bitterroot, flytrap dogbane.

Comments Spreads so rapidly from creeping underground stems that it should not be used in small garden settings.

Exposure Preference Sun to partial shade.

Native Distribution Newfoundland. to British Columbia, s. to Georgia mts. & Arizona

Site Preference Open woods; roadsides; lakeshores; thickets

Soil Preference Sandy or gravelly soils. pH 4-5.