South Dakota Native Plant Research
Apocynaceae : Apocynum cannabinum

Apocynaceae : Apocynum cannabinum


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Family Name


Common Name

Indian Hemp, prairie dogbane

Native American Name

Lakota: napéoilekiyap


Apocynum cannabinum is a perennial herb with branched stems coming from rhizomes, erect to ascending and growing from 0.6-2 m tall. Green to lightly red stems are alternate to opposite in orientation. The leaves are simple, opposite, ascending to erect with entire margins, sessile below and with short petioles above. The blades oblong to lanceolate, 2-14 cm long and 0.3-5 cm wide. Inflorescences are generally dense terminal cymes; the flowers erect to slightly drooping. The calyx is fused with lobes 1.2-3 mm long. The corolla is white to yellowish green, narrowly campanulate to urceolate, 2.6-4.7 mm long and 1.5-3 mm wide, with lobes that are less than half the length of the tube. The fruit are divergent to pendulous, straight to curved follicles, 7-22 cm long. Indian hemp blooms from May to September, the seeds (3-6 mm long) emerge from the follicles in late summer and fall. They are covered in white hairs that are 1.6-3 cm long. Plants can be found in prairies, roadsides, wooded waterways and sparsely wooded slopes in both east and west river in South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Prairie dogbane has white milky sap that contains several phytochemicals that can be poisonous if consumed and can cause skin irritation and blistering. It has been used to remove warts. Fibers in the stems were used by several North American tribes as a source of thread. The flowers attract butterflies and bees. This species can be quite aggressive in a garden and can spread rapidly.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: Collect seeds after the follicle opens.

Germination: Seeds have limited dormancy and can be planted out in fall or spring.

Vegetative Propagation: Clusters can be divided and transplanted in the spring,

Light: Partial shade.

Soil Moisture: Moist

Water Use: High

Soil: Broad range of soils.

Apocynaceae : Apocynum cannabinum