Apocynum cannabinum – Dogbane

After first snow

From Wikipedia

Apocynum cannabinum (Dogbane, Amy Root, Hemp Dogbane, Prairie Dogbane, Indian Hemp, Rheumatism Root, or Wild Cotton) is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows throughout much of North America – in the southern half of Canada and throughout the United States. It is a poisonous plant: Apocynum means “poisonous to dogs”. All parts of the plant are poisonous and can cause cardiac arrest if ingested. The cannabinum in the scientific name and the common names Hemp Dogbane and Indian Hemp refer to its similarity to Cannabis as a fiber plant (see Hemp), rather than as a source of a psychoactive drug.

Although dogbane is poisonous to livestock, it likely got its name from its resemblance to a European species of the same name. 

In first snow

In the fall, when toxins drain to the roots, the plant can be harvested for fiber, which can be used to make strong string and cordage for use in bows, fire-bows, nets and tie-downs.

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8 thoughts on “Apocynum cannabinum – Dogbane

  1. So beautiful, as usual! It would be fun to make some of that strong string/cordage to tie up other plants or garden stuff next year. Fun and labor intensive!

  2. Lovely plant! Do you get any fall color on yours, James? We always get at least yellow in VA, but often oranges and ruby reds too. It’s lousy for forage as you pointed out so I only see it in empty fields and right of ways. If I can find a picture of the beetle, I’ll send it along.

    1. Paul, I get only a passable yellow but I’ll keep watch for more color next year. The seed pods are lovely, the seeds even better when they burst out. What beatle are you referring to? (Excuse my ignorance.)

      1. The Dogbane Leaf Beetle (Chrysochus auratus Fabricius) is a stunning little thing – about the size of a Japanese beetle, but shiny metallic green with a little rainbow iridescence. When Sonya was away in grad school and I was bored crazy, I started to make a little war scene diorama with them and regiments of Japanese Beetles. June bugs were the bombers for the Japanese Beetle army but I couldn’t find something suitable for Dogbane Beetles bombers. Fortunately, Sonya came home pretty soon after that and saved me from going completely loony.

  3. That’s it! Isn’t it awesome?! It looks like some tropical beetle used by Christopher Marley in his jaw dropping prisms, but it lives in my yard. Too cool!

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