Amsonia ciliata - Walter
Apocynaceae (Dogbane) Family
Bluestar is also known as Willow Amsonia, Blue Amsonia, Eastern Bluestar, Blue Dogbane and Woodland Bluestar.
The plant is an upright, smooth perennial with milky sap and a woody rootstock. Its preferred habitat is roadsides, woods, railroad tracks, and stream edges. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.
The leaves are alternate on the stem, consisting of one part, no leaf stalk, lance-like, no teeth, tapering and pinched at the tip. Leaf base is wedge-shaped.
The flowers are clusters at the tip of a stem (terminal), bisexual in nature and symmetrical in form. The calyx is 5-lobed; the corolla is a tube that flares at the tip (salverform) and is also 5-lobed; separate in part; light blue in color. Flowers occur in the spring.
Fruit is a follicle (dry fruit that contains more than one seed and splits along the suture at maturity).
While the Blue Star is fresh, bright, and clean, dont be taken in by its good looks. The milky sap is pure poison, as it is closely related to Running Myrtle (Wild Periwinkle). Although not as toxic as Indian Hemp or Oleander, it should nevertheless be set aside.
The long fiberous stems of dogbane plants were used by Native Americans for making twine, rope, fishing nets, and clothing. The fibers were taken from these plants as they are taken from flax (soaked in water until the soft tissue has rotted and the fibers separate). The fibers are thrashed to separate the strings, rinsed and combed clean.
An animal's built-in instinct tells them the latex-like sap is untasty. Most times the critter will pass it up in preference of something more palatable.
The flowers always appear blue, but there are no blue dogbanes having clear or blue flowers. However, that is the name color given, "Bluestar."