Dogbane

Genus Apocynum
Dogbane Family (Apocynaceae)



Dogbane plant near the Jordan River

Common Dogbane
(Apocynum cannabinum)

This weedy plant grows along roadsides, ditchbanks and other disturbed areas. It has a milky sap or juice which is somewhat poisonous. The generic name Apocynum implies that it may be poisonous to dogs, or that it keeps dogs away.
The flowers are very tiny, with 5 white petals joined in a bell shape.

Dogbane flowers

The common dogbane is also called "Indian Hemp". The species name cannabinum means that it is like the cannabis plant (marijuana), which is also sometimes called "hemp". The two plants are not related, but they are alike in that both have tough fibers in their stalks which are useful in making ropes and cords. Native Americans used the dogbane plant for this purpose.


Dogbane plant along White Pine trail

Spreading Dogbane
(Apocynum androsaemifolium)

The Spreading Dogbane grows on the foothills and in the canyons, in places where there is sufficient moisture. Its flowers are usually pink, and the leaves are somewhat wider than in the common dogbane.

These two species of dogbane will interbreed, resulting in a form called Apocynum medium.