Indian Hemp - Prairie Dogbane
Hemp Dogbane
Apocynum cannabinum - Linnaeus
Apocynaceae (Dogbane) Family

  

Plant is an upright, smooth perennial with an underground stem (rhizome) from which new growth emerges; easily recognized by its red-tinged stems. Its preferred habitat is dry to moist sites and open to semi-shady grounds, open forests, pastures and old fields. The plant is persistent through woody root stocks and colony root-sprouting. Seeds are spread by wind and rain. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.

The leaves are opposite on the stem; consisting of one whole part. The leaf stalks may be short or nearly sessile. The leaves are widest at the middle or lance-like; no teeth and no lobes; tapers to the tip with a wedge-shape base.

Flowers are in terminal clusters; bisexual in nature; symmetrical in form.  The calyx is five-lobed; corolla is urn-shape or cylindrical with five lobes. Color is white to greenish. Flowers occur in the summer.

Fruit is a one-seeded follicle where pod splits along the seam.

Extracts of this poisonous plant have been used as an emetic, cathartic and diuretic.  The stems were once used to make cord, which in turn was woven into strong rope. The related A. androsaemifolium (Spreading Dogbane) is similar but its leaves are spreading and often drooping. The bell-shaped corolla is pink and has lobes that are spreading or curved backward. Climbing Dogbane, Trachelospermum difforme, is a woody trailing vine which is most often found at stream edges, in marshes and swamp margins. The tiny bell-like flowers are greenish-yellow.

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