Apocynum androsaemifolium

From Puget Prairie Plants
  • Scientific Name: Apocynum androsaemifolium
  • Family: Apocynaceae
  • Common Names: flytrap dogbane, spreading dogbane
  • Synonyms/Misapplications: Apocynum ambigens
  • Codon: APOAND

Photo by Rod Gilbert. Also featured on Main Page


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Subkingdom: Viridiplantae
Phylum: Tracheophyta
Subphylum: Spermatophytina
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Asteranae
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Genus: Apocynum L.
Species: Apocynum androsaemifolium L.
  • Apocynum pumilum (A. Gray) Greene
  • Apocynum ambigens Greene
  • Apocynum androsaemifolium ssp. androsaemifolium L.
  • Apocynum androsaemifolium var. glabrum Macoun
  • Apocynum scopulorum Greene ex Rydb.


Plant Description

Perennial, rhizomatous herb with branching stems, opposite leaves and cymose inflorescences composed of small, campanulate pink flowers.[2] Glabrous to woolly, producing milky juice.[3] Leaves petiolate, round or cordate with blunt or acute tip.[4] Inflorescenses usually terminal, sometimes axillary.[3] Calyx less than half the length of the corolla with broad lobes; corolla united, about 5 mm long, pink; stamens 5, epipetalous, alternate; pistil 2-carpellate, ovary superior; follicles with many seeds.[2]

Bloom period

June to September.[3]


Throughout Washington and much of Canada and the United States. More common east of the Cascade crest.[3]


Dry open rocky woods, thickets, roadsides in open areas from low to fairly high elevations. Typically found growing in sandy or gravelly, dry soils.[3]


First Nations

One of the digitalis group of cardiac tonics, apocynum, is the most powerful in slowing the pulse, and its action on the vaso-motor system is also very strong. Being rather irritant to mucous membranes, it may cause nausea and catharsis, so that some cannot tolerate it. It is a powerful hydragogue, helpful in dropsies due to heart-failure, and in the ascites of hepatic cirrhosts has been called the 'vegetable trocar.'[5]

Women of some tribes rolled dogbane stem fibers on their legs to make fine thread, said to be finer and stronger than the best cotton thread. It was used for sewing and for making twine, nets, fabric and bowstrings.[6]

Other Uses

These plants are relatives of the milkweeds. Indian Hemp (A. cannabinum), a slightly smaller species with erect clusters of greenish-white flowers, is also found in fields and is poisonous. Clasping-leaved Dogbane (A. sibiricum), found widely throughout the Northeast in sandy or gravelly habitats such as stream banks, has stalkless or nearly stalkless leaves. Women of some tribes rolled dogbane stem fibres on their legs to make fine thread, said to be finer and stronger than the best cotton thread. It was used for sewing and for making twine, nets, fabric and bowstrings. The poisonous, acrid sap was said to stimulate hair growth by irritating the follicles, but people with sensitive skin are more likely to develop blisters than hair.[6]



Apocynum androsaemifolium
Photo Credit Lisa Hintz

The flowers bloom in June and July. Pods, slender hanging down 7-20cm long.


Seed sample from: 2009

Average Measurement: 1.8 x 0.4 x 0.2

Measurement Range: L: 1.2 – 2.1, W: 0.2 – 0.5, D: 0.1 – 0.3


Shape: Narrow at hilum end, and opposite apex. Seed somewhat flattened.

Color: Hilum white against brown seed body.

Surface: Longitudinally ribbed with small glossy globules. Seed lustrous.

Latitudinal Cross Section: elliptical APAN lat.png

Longitudinal Cross Section: elliptical Apan long.png

Basic Explanations and Assumptions:

The dimensions for the seeds are length x width x depth. The location of the hilum is used as the base of the seed, and the length is measured from hilum to the opposite apex. Where a style is present, the length is measured from the hilum to the bottom of the style. Width is measured at a right angle to the length at the widest part. Depth is measured at a right angle to the intersection of height and width lines.

Measurements included are the mean average for each measurement of ten separate seeds.

All measurements in millimeters unless otherwise noted.

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  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved from https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=30156
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hitchcock, C. L., Cronquist, A., Giblin, D., & Legler, B. et al. (2018). Flora of the Pacific Northwest: an illustrated manual. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 419.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 WTU Herbarium, Burke Museum, & University of Washington. Retrieved from  http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection/taxon.php?Taxon=Apocynum%20androsaemifolium
  4. Jepson Herbarium Online Flora. Retrieved from https://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=13635
  5. Marshall, Manya., Grieve, Maud., Grieve, Margaret. A Modern Herbal, Vol. I. United States: Dover Publications, 1971.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Native Plants of North America. Retrieved from https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=apan2.
  7. http://www.nativeplantnetwork.org/network/ViewProtocols.aspx?ProtocolID=1405,1826 |Propagation Protocol from Native Plant Network