Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family)
General - erect, spreading perennial herb with tough, fibrous bark; stems branched toward top; from rhizomes; up to 50 cm high; stem and leaves contain milky sap.
Leaves - opposite; simple; egg-shaped or oblong; short-stalked; 2.5-8 cm long; pointed at the tip; smooth above, slightly hairy underneath.
Flowers - in showy clusters from stem tips or upper leaf axils; small pink flowers, bell-shaped and sweetly-scented; appearing mid- to late summer.
Fruit -a long (up to 15 cm), narrow, cylindrical pod containing elongated cottony seeds; appearing in August and September.
Found in a variety of well-drained upland forest sites, open hillsides and ridges; especially on dry/fresh, sandy and coarse loamy soils. Also in clearings and fields, along forest margins, on roadsides and disturbed ground.
The flowers of the plant can be deadly for insects Ð when touched, scales in the throats of the flowers spring inwards, trapping the intruder. Non-flowering plants may be confused with those of Lonicera canadensis or L. oblongifolia. However, the milky sap of Apocynum is diagnostic. Skin contact with the sap may cause a rash in hypersensitive individuals; the sap is also considered toxic to livestock. The name "dogbane" derives from the root's reputed value as a remedy for the bites of mad dogs.
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