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Kinnikinnick Native Plant Society

Focusing on native plants and conservation in North Idaho

Spreading Dogbane

Species profile by Wendy Aeschliman

Common Name(s): Dogbane, Spreading Dogbane, Flytrap Dogbane.

Scientific Name: Apocynum  androsaemifolium 

General Info:  A perennial with stems erect, branched, and often reddish, can be hairy or non-hairy.  Plants have a milky sap.  20 to 50 mm tall.

Native/ Non-native:  Native.

Ecology: Found on open hillsides and ridges, well drained, dry sites, fields, roadsides, meadows, dry forest, locally common in low to subalpine elevations.

Range:  May be found throughout Canada and the US.

Leaves: Leaves are opposite and oblong to elliptic.  Short stalked, 3-8 cm long, spreading and drooping.  Hairless and green above, paler and usually hairy below.

Flowers:  Fragrant, small and pink, has bell-shaped corolla with spreading lobes which curl back.  Darker pink lines (honey guides) lead insects into five peg-shaped nectaries which are visited by large butterflies and bees.

Fruits:  Pods are very long (5 to 12 cm) and are paired, skinny, and cylindrical.  There are numerous seeds with long tuft of cottony hairs.

Notes: The plant has had medicinal uses but is usually considered poisonous.

Resources/ Links:

Field Guide to Forest Plants of Northern Idaho (Patterson, Neiman, Tonn), 1985 USDA – Forest Service

Plants of Southern Interior British Colombia and the Inland Northwest (Parish, Coupe, Lloyd), 1996

Above:Dogbane turns yellow, sometimes reddish, in the fall!  Note reddish stem.

Below:  Dogbane leaves and small flowers in mid-summer.

Below: An individual dogbane flower.

           Photos by Wendy Aeschliman