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Common Herb Species of the Northwest Forest

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Terminology | Pictorial

   
Apocynum androsaemifolium
Spreading Dogbane
Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family)

Description

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.

Spreading Dogbane 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.

Habitat

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.

Notes

The flowers of the plant can be deadly for insects 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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