Ontario Weeds: Spreading dogbane

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Leaves
  7. Flowers and Fruit
  8. Habitat
  9. Similar Species
  10. For more information...

Name: Spreading dogbane, Apocynum androsaemifolium L.,

Other Names: apocyn à feuilles d'androseme, Indian hemp, fausse herbe à la puce

Family: Dogbane Family (Apocynaceae)

General Description: Perennial, reproducing by seed and by spreading underground rhizomes.

Photos and Pictures

Spreading dogbane (left - top of a flowering plant; right - maturing plant showing pencil-shaped seedpods).
Spreading dogbane (left - top of a flowering plant; right - maturing plant showing pencil-shaped seedpods).

Spreading dogbane

Spreading dogbane

Spreading dogbane. A. Upper part of flowering plant. B. Cluster of seedpods.

Spreading dogbane. A. Upper part of flowering plant. B. Cluster of seedpods.

Stems & Roots: Stems erect or leaning, occasionally unbranched but usually repeatedly branched in the upper part, 20-75cm (8-30in.) high, slender, smooth, often reddish.

Leaves: Leaves opposite (2 per node), oblong to ovate, often drooping, on short stalks; upper surface bright to dark green, undersurface lighter green to whitish-green and finely hairy at least along the mid-vein, young leaves at ends of branches distinctly whitish.

Flowers & Fruit: Flowers in branched clusters at ends of stems and small branches; calyx lobes short and triangular; corolla whitish to pinkish, bell-shaped, 6-10mm (¼-2/5in.) long; seedpods usually in pairs, 7-20cm (3-10in.) long, thin, pencil-like but more tapered towards the tip, straight or slightly curved, splitting lengthwise with a single slit to release the small, slender seeds, each with a long, white, silky parachute. All parts of the plant contain milky juice. Flowers from June to August.

Habitat: Spreading dogbane is a native plant that occurs throughout Ontario in pastures, edges of woodlands, waste areas, fields and roadsides, usually in dry areas or on shallow soils.

Similar Species: It is distinguished by its slender somewhat fleshy appearance, its leaves opposite, short-stalked, often drooping, undersurface slightly hairy and lighter green, the younger ones whitish-green, its clusters of pinkish flowers usually 6mm (¼in.) or longer, its pencil-like seedpods, and milky juice.

For more information...

... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds

... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

...on weeds in field crops, contact Mike Cowbrough (mike.cowbrough@ontario.ca), Weed Management Specialist (Field Crops), OMAFRA, Guelph
...on weeds in horticultural crops, contact Kristen Callow (kristen.callow@ontario.ca), Weed Management Specialist (Hort Crops), OMAFRA. Harrow

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