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Dogbane plant is a tough little plant, with a wiry stem and thorns that can puncture horsehide. Pinwheels and four-petal flowers are clustered at the tip of the stem. The plant takes its name from the shape of its leaves and it has been used as an antispyware herb for hundreds of years. Ground up and put in a cup of wine, the spines keep alcohol from being digested in the gut.Spreading dogbane is a showy member of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae) that is found in nearly all of the 50 states except some in the southeast. The common name, dogbane, and the genus name, “Apocynum,” meaning “away from dog,” are testaments to the toxic nature of this plant, not only to dogs, but to humans, livestock, and other mammals as well.
If you break a spreading dogbane stem or leaf, you will see that the plant contains a bitter, sticky, milky white sap. The sap contains cardiac glycosides that are toxic to humans. The root also contains a potent cardiac stimulant, cymarin. These toxic compounds help protect spreading dogbane from grazing animals. Despite its toxicity, the plant has been used medicinally for a variety of ailments. However, this plant is best enjoyed for its beauty and not as a medicine. Native Americans used the tough fibers of this and other native dogbanes to make threads and cord.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.
Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years. (Source: www.prairiemoon.com)