FutureStarr

Dogbane Seed Pods

Dogbane Seed Pods

Dogbane Seed Pods

Why "dogbane?" Because, according to Pliny the Elder (77–79 AD), the seeds of the European version of the plant, when "given in their food with water," are "poisonous to dogs and all other quadrupeds." A footnote in the 1856 translation of Pliny by J. Bostock & H. T. Riley says of Pliny's statement: "This is the fact; and hence one of its names 'cyanche,' or 'dog-strangle.'" God only knows what European plant old toga-clad Pliny had in mind 2000 years ago—but Apocynum cannabinum is reported as poisonous by contemporary, reliable, North American sources.

Dogbane

Hemp dogbane is an erect, one to three feet tall perennial. It grows from woody horizontal rootstocks. Leaves are smooth, elliptical, narrow and erect. Flowers are small with five greenish-white petals. Leaves and stems have a milky sap. Seed pods are long and slender. Hemp dogbane plants produce from 800-12,000 seeds per plant. Each plant usually has 10 to 60 seed pods and each pod contains between 80-200 seeds.Hemp dogbane is very competitive. It can reduce forage yields if not controlled. Hemp dogbane prefers low-lying wet areas but can grow in dry upland soils as well.Names: It was the Greek writer of the 1st century, Dioscorides, who provided the Greek name “apokynon” from which comes the generic name Apocynum, and means "away from dog" - referencing the plants toxic nature if eaten by dogs, and thus - 'Dogbane'. Dioscorides, in naming a plant with red sap, also provided the species name, androsaemifolium. It begins with the two original Greek words meaning 'man's blood' and then translated to the Latin becomes 'androsaemum'. The 'folium' part of it means 'leaves of'. In total this can be said to be a reference to a plant with leaves that would have reddish juice. Some also have interpreted it as the reddish stain you get on your fingers if you crush together the flowers. The author name for the plant classification - 'L.' is for Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), Swedish botanist and the developer of the binomial nomenclature of modern taxonomy.

Notes: Spreading Dogbane is indigenous to the Garden area. Eloise Butler catalogued it on May 31, 1907. Martha Crone planted it in 1946 and sowed seeds in 1949. It is native to Minnesota in most counties except for the SW Quadrant where it is found in only a few areas. It is found throughout North America except for some states of the U.S. in the far south and Nunavut and Labrador in Canada. Their are 4 species of Apocynum listed as native to Minnesota. A. cannabinum, Prairie Dogbane (Indian Hemp); and A. androsaemifolium are the most common. The other two have no current populations listed by the MN-DNR. These are A. sibiricum (which many sources list as a synonym for A. cannabinum) and A x floribundum, a hybrid known as Many-flowered Dogbane.Dogbane is also called Indianhemp. The plant has opposing leaves and dense heads of small greenish-white flowers, which are popular with small insect pollinators; mostly bees and moths. The USDA-NRCA lists Dogbane as "very high" in its importance to pollinators. The species may spread in colonies as horizontal roots form from an initial taproot and can be considered aggressive. Flowers are followed by long (4") narrow pods that contain many silk-tufted seeds. Dogbane's botanical name refers to its believed toxicity to dogs and its similarity to hemp. The plant's strong fibers have made it prized for cordage and threads for centuries. Visually, younger plants are often mistaken for Milkweeds, but as the plant matures and flowers, there are many noticeable differences. (Source: www.prairiemoon.com)

 

Related Articles