Apocynum androsaemifolium - L.
Common Name Spreading Dogbane
Family Apocynaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards All parts of the plant are poisonous[1, 62].
Habitats Open woodland, woodland edges etc, usually on drier soils[43, 62].
Range Northern N. America.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun

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A perennial flowering plant from North America with some useful medicinal and other uses. Common names include bitterroot, flytrap dogbane and spreading dogbane.

Apocynum androsaemifolium Spreading Dogbane

Apocynum androsaemifolium Spreading Dogbane
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Apocynum androsaemifolium is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4. It is in flower in July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade;
Edible Uses
None known
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Cardiotonic;  Cathartic;  Contraceptive;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Emetic;  Expectorant;  VD.

Spreading dogbane is an unpleasantly bitter stimulant irritant herb that acts on the heart, respiratory and urinary systems, and also on the uterus[238]. It was widely employed by the native North American Indians who used it to treat a wide variety of complaints including headaches, convulsions, earache, heart palpitations, colds, insanity and dizziness[257]. It should be used with great caution, and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner if taking this plant internally[21, 238]. The root contains cymarin, a cardioactive glycoside that is toxic to ruminants[222]. The root is cardiotonic, cathartic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic and expectorant[1, 4, 21, 61, 222]. It has a powerful action in slowing the pulse and also has a very strong action on the vaso-motor system, it is rather an irritant to the mucous membranes though, so some people cannot tolerate it[4]. The juice of the fresh root has been used in the treatment of syphilis[207]. The sap of the plant has been applied externally to get rid of warts[257]. The roots were boiled in water and the water drunk once a week in order to prevent conception[213]. The green fruits were boiled and the decoction used in the treatment of heart and kidney problems and for the treatment of dropsy[213]. This preparation can irritate the intestines and cause unpleasant side-effects[213].


Other Uses
Fibre;  Latex.

The bark yields a good quality fibre that is used for making twine, bags, linen etc[4, 99, 155, 257]. It is inferior to A. cannabinum[99]. The fibre is finer and stronger than cotton[207]. It can be harvested after the leaves fall in the autumn but is probably at its best as the seed pods are forming[169]. The plant yields a latex, which is a possible source of rubber[46, 61]. It is obtained by making incisions on the stem and resembles indiarubber when dry[4].
Cultivation details
Prefers an acid peaty soil[1] but it succeeds in sun or shade in most well-drained soils and climates[169, 200]. A very ornamental plant[1], but it can be invasive[200]. The flowers the flowers secrete a sweet liquid that is very attractive to flies[4]. The flies are then imprisoned by their proboscis which becomes trapped between the short filaments of the stamens[207].
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in late summer and overwintered outdoors. The seed requires a period of cold stratification if it is to germinate well[238]. Prick out the seedlings when large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter, planting out in late spring of the following year[K]. Division in spring just before active growth begins[200]. Plants can also be divided in the autumn[238].
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

This plant can be weedy or invasive. Some reports in Western USA.
Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.
Related Plants


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Subject : Apocynum androsaemifolium  

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