General: Dogbane Family (Apocynaceae). The plant stem can be 0.61-1.83 m (2-6 feet) tall, and contains milky juice. The elliptical leaves are small, about 5.0-7.6 cm (2-3 inches) long, and opposite. The flowers are small and inconspicuous, cylindric to urn-shaped, and greenish pink. The fruit is 6 - 9 cm (2.4-3.5 cm) long and pendant, slender and cylindric. When the fruit matures and splits open, the seeds are wind dispersed with long tufts of silky hairs.
Dogbane, milkweed, honeybloom, bitter root, black hemp, hemp dogbane, lechuguilla, westernwall
States or Provinces
Regional Distribution in the Western United States
This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site. Indian hemp or dogbane proliferates in moist places near riparian areas along streams, springs, levees, roadsides, and waste places. This well-known source of fibers is found in damp places, below 5,000 feet altitude through most of California, even here and there in the deserts. Indian hemp grows throughout California north to British Colombia and east across the United States.
Indian hemp is found near the borders of woods, along paths, in clearings, or in disturbed, waste places like ditches. It is no longer very common in California, and many traditional gathering sites are gone.
Indianhemp is a native, perennial, broadleaf herb. In some cases, it is considered a weed [15,77,104,119]. It has an erect to ascending growth habit and reaches heights of 2 to 6 feet (0.6-1.8 m) from a spreading root stalk [15,28,77,119,156] Branching is opposite or sub-opposite . The leaves are opposite, ovate to lanceololate, entire, and glabrous to sparingly pubescent beneath [5,15,28,119,156]. The flowers consist of 5 petals occurring in terminal clusters from the leaf axils [15,119]. The inflorescence of Indianhemp is a trichasial cyme. The lateral cymes of the trichasium can continue growing vegetatively to form a complete stem with their own terminal trichasiums . The fruits are slender, pencil-like, hanging pods that are 4 to 8 inches (10-20 cm) long and occur in pairs. Seeds are flat, thin, and tufted with soft hairs [15,77,119]. Indianhemp leaves, stems, and roots all contain milky juice [14,15,28,119].
Indianhemp has 2 underground organs: the 1st are thick, branched, horizontal rhizomes that produce new aerial shoots at variable depths. The 2nd are slender, well-branched, vertical, absorbing roots . These large roots/rhizome systems have been found as deep as 13 feet (4 m) below the soil surface and may extend up to 20 feet (6 m) in radial spread [76,104].
Indianhemp can grow in diverse environments . It prefers damp locations along streams and ditches and in marshes, though it can be found growing less abundantly in drier locations such as thickets, open woods, and open ground [35,70].
The following table describes site characteristics for Indianhemp throughout its distribution.
|Arizona||Streambeds in woodlands and riparian woodlands between 3,000 to 7,500 feet (910-2,300 m) [18,74]|
|California||Damp/moist places near streams, springs, and ditches below 7,000 feet (2,100 m), sometimes in deserts or a weed in orchards [28,63,101,102]|
|Colorado||Roadside ditches and floodplains between 3,500 and 7,500 feet (1,100-2,300 m) [61,145,146]|
|Illinois||Prairies, fields, abandoned fields and rocky woods [89,98]|
|Kansas||Prairies, streambanks, roadsides, and "waste grounds" |
|Minnesota||Pipestone National Monument: rock outcrops, woodlands, and tallgrass prairies |
|Montana||Hills, slopes, moist, shady areas, and disturbed areas [17,42]; sometimes found in wetlands, but also occurs in drier sites |
|west-central Montana||Along rivers below high water marks, on islands, and low banks. Often in half shade beneath tree canopies, also on gravelly, vernally moist to wet places, and on disturbed sites. Dry to moist valleys [81,82]|
|Nevada||Gravelly slopes, damp ditch banks or canyon bottoms from 2,800 to 6,500 feet (850-2,000 m) |
|Nebraska||Occurs in patches in field crops and may occur as a dense infestation throughout the field ; ravines and wet meadows |
|New Mexico||Moist, open, or "waste ground" between 3,500 and 7,500 feet (1,100-2,300 m) |
|North Carolina||Disturbed areas, old fields, and roadsides |
|Ohio||Moist to mesic fields and thickets, pond and stream margins, moist to mesic woodland openings and borders, railways, roadsides, and other "waste places" |
|Oregon||"Wastelands" and seldom cultivated areas, especially in orchards |
|South Dakota - Black Hills||Hills, streambanks, and railroad embankments [41,93]|
|Texas||Open or disturbed, often moist ground. Sandy, gravelly, or eroding clayey soils |
|Utah||Roadsides, fields, streambanks, and disturbed sites mainly in riparian communities between 3,200 to 7,700 feet (970-2,350 m). "Poorly kept" agricultural lands [57,152]|
|Virginia||Low woods |
|Wyoming||Hills, slopes, and disturbed areas |
|Great Plains||Prairies, river floodplains, terraces, open or woodland waterways or lakeshores, disturbed roadsides or fields, ditches, and sparsely wooded slopes [58,70]|
|Intermountain west||Moist to moderately moist, disturbed areas along roadsides and ditch-banks between 1,600 to 7,200 feet (500-2,200 m) |
|Northern Great Plains||Borders of marshes, lakes, streams and other moist to wet places, often in disturbed areas |
|Ozark Mountains||Glades, prairies, open woods, and "waste ground" |
|Pacific Northwest||A "serious" weed on "wasteland" areas that are infrequently plowed, occasionally a problem in orchards [64,65]|
|western U.S.||Grows on plains and foothills at elevations up to 7000 feet (2,100 m). Commonly found on gravelly or sandy fields, in meadows, and along creekbeds, irrigation ditches, and fence lines in cultivated pastures [69,140]|
|British Columbia||Collected in draws and exposed banks |
|Nova Scotia||Gravelly beaches and cobbley or sandy stream banks |
|Baja California||Streams and ditches, meadows, and hillsides |
Key Plant Community Associations
Indianhemp is not an indicator or dominant species in vegetation typings. It is
considered a characteristic (secondary) plant species in the wet-meadow
vegetation of the Prairie Potholes in North Dakota .
In Virginia, Indianhemp is "particularly characteristic" of the Rocky Bars and
Shores communities of the palustrine-alluvial floodplain communities
Other communities where Indianhemp is known to occur:
Freshwater tidal marsh of the Merrimack River, Massachusetts in the high tide zone 
Weeping alkali grass (Puccinellia distans) association and seeps in canyons
(vertical, loose, sandy soils) in Tsegi Canyon, Arizona 
Natural (vs. restored) prairie wetlands in northwest Iowa 
Habitat: Rangeland Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following Rangeland Cover Types (as classified by the Society for Range Management, SRM):
More info for the term: cover
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
101 Bluebunch wheatgrass
401 Basin big sagebrush
411 Aspen woodland
601 Bluestem prairie
602 Bluestem-prairie sandreed
604 Bluestem-grama prairie
731 Cross timbers-Oklahoma
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
More info for the term: cover
SAF COVER TYPES :
1 Jack pine
17 Pin cherry
18 Paper birch
20 White pine-northern red oak-red maple
37 Northern white-cedar
39 Black ash-American elm-red maple
40 Post oak-blackjack oak
46 Eastern redcedar
61 River birch-sycamore
70 Longleaf pine
71 Longleaf pine-scrub oak
75 Shortleaf pine
76 Shortleaf pine-oak
78 Virginia pine-oak
79 Virginia pine
83 Longleaf pine-slash pine
95 Black willow
107 White spruce
108 Red maple
210 Interior Douglas-fir
222 Black cottonwood-willow
233 Oregon white oak
237 Interior ponderosa pine
252 Paper birch
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
KUCHLER  PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:
K011 Western ponderosa forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K026 Oregon oakwoods
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K053 Grama-galleta steppe
K054 Grama-tobosa prairie
K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe
K063 Foothills prairie
K068 Wheatgrass-grama-buffalo grass
K069 Bluestem-grama prairie
K074 Bluestem prairie
K081 Oak savanna
K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100
K084 Cross Timbers
K093 Great Lakes spruce-fir forest
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K096 Northeastern spruce-fir forest
K098 Northern floodplain forest
K100 Oak-hickory forest
K101 Elm-ash forest
K104 Appalachian oak forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES10 White-red-jack pine
FRES12 Longleaf-slash pine
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES32 Texas savanna
FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES38 Plains grasslands
Indian hemp plants are not widely available. Transplanting bare rootstock or collecting seed for direct reseeding into the ground will be necessary in most areas. Use of plants which have been traditionally used by the ancestors of that place, and which are adapted to the climate, soils, and site conditions of that place, is optimum.
Seed Collections: Collect seeds after pods have ripened, but before they have split open. This usually occurs in late summer, from August to September. The seeds are wind dispersed, so be careful when gathering to place them in a paper or burlap bag to avoid losing them.
Seeds can be directly sown into the ground in the fall. The seed is very viable. Planting seed the first fall after collecting seeds maximizes revegetation success. It is not certain how long you can store the seeds. Irrigation the first summer after planting will improve plant survival. Once root are established, extra watering will be unnecessary. Indian hemp is fairly aggressive, and will usually out-compete other plant species on its own. The latex in stems and leaves protects the plant from most herbivores.
Live Plant Collections: Plants can be divided almost any time of year, but revegetation is most successful in fall after the plants senesce. Harvest and planting of Indian hemp is optimum in October, or just after the first fall rains. Stalks should be cut to a conveniently manageable length before digging up plants (approximately 25 to 35 cm).
No more than 1/4 of the plants in an area should be collected; a depth of 15 cm (6 in) is sufficiently deep for digging plugs. This will leave enough plants and roots to grow back during the following growing season.
Live transplants should be planted as soon as possible. Plants should be transported and stored in a cool location prior to planting. Plugs may be split into smaller units, generally no smaller than 6 x 6 cm (2.4 x 2.4 in) with healthy roots and tops. Weeds in the plugs should be removed by hand. For ease in transport, soil may be washed gently from roots. The roots should always remain moist or in water until planted. Roots should be kept moist after the plants have been dug up. Planting should occur at a spacing of approximately one-foot centers. Plants should be watered in. Irrigation may be necessary through the first dry season. By the second year, roots should have extended to the water table and irrigation should no longer be necessary.
Flower-Visiting Insects of Common Dogbane in Illinois
(Insects suck nectar; most observations are from Robertson, otherwise they are from Moure & Hurd, Mitchell, Hilty, Krombein et al., MacRae, Grundel et al., and Tuell et al. as indicated below)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera; Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada affabilis, Nomada articulata fq
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea, Augochlorella striata; Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes producta
Sphecidae (Bembicinae): Bicyrtes ventralis; Sphecidae (Eumeninae): Euodynerus foraminatus; Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Isodontia apicalis
Megachilidae (Coelioxini): Coelioxys octodentata; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile rugifrons; Megachilidae (Stelidini): Stelis lateralis
Halictidae (Halictinae): Augochloropsis metallica metallica, Halictus confusus, Lasioglossum versatus; Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes aestivalis; Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus affinis; Melittidae: Macropis steironematis fq
Sphecidae (Astatinae): Astata unicolor; Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Ammophila kennedyi, Prionyx atrata, Prionyx thomae
Scaridae: Sciara atrata; Syrphidae: Allograpta obliqua, Eristalis dimidiatus, Parhelophilus laetus, Sphaerophoria contiqua, Tropidia mamillata, Tropidia quadrata; Empidae: Empis clausa; Bombyliidae: Bombylius atriceps, Villa alternata; Tachinidae: Archytas analis, Copecrypta ruficauda, Cylindromyia euchenor, Gymnoclytia occidua, Linnaemya comta, Spallanzania hesperidarum; Sarcophagidae: Helicobia rapax; Calliphoridae: Cochliomyia macellaria, Phormia regina; Muscidae: Limnophora narona; Fanniidae: Fannia manicata
Nymphalidae: Speyeria cybele; Lycaenidae: Satyrium calanus
Scarabaeidae (Cetonniae): Trichiotinus piger
Miridae: Lygus lineolaris; Lygaeidae: Lygaeus turcicus
Pollinia presence unspecified:
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera (Tll) Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea (MH), Augochlora pura (Gnd), Augochlorella aurata (Gnd), Augochlorella striata (MH), Augochloropsis metallica metallica (MH), Halictus confusus (MH), Lasioglossum admirandum (Tll), Lasioglossum versatum (MH); Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus sp. (Tll), Hylaeus affinis (Tll), Hylaeus illinoisensis (Mch), Hylaeus mesillae (Tll), Hylaeus modestus (Tll); Hylaeus saniculae (Mch, Kr); Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena spp. (Tll), Andrena personata (Kr), Andrena quintilis (Kr)
Hesperiidae: Epargyreus clarus (H)
Buprestidae: Acmaeodera pulchella (McR), Anthaxia flavimana (McR)
Plant Response to Fire
There are conflicting results as to how Indianhemp responds to fire. Johnson and Knapp  stated that populations of Indianhemp increased with increased fire frequency on tallgrass prairie in Kansas . However, Tester  found a nonsignificant negative effect of burn frequency on Indianhemp in an oak savanna of east-central Minnesota .
Indianhemp was found on all 5 burned study plots 100 days after fire in a white spruce-quaking aspen site in Ontario . Indianhemp also produced new spring growth within days following a prescribed burn in a tallgrass prairie in Kansas .
Prescribed burns were implemented in consecutive years in an oak savanna in east-central Illinois. The 1st fire resulted in a "hot, intense" fire, and the fire the following year was not as hot or intense. Indianhemp increased on burned sites but only in the 2nd postfire year . It increased in percent cover on both control and burn plots studied after a prescribed fire on a mid-elevation wetland in southeastern Arizona .
Conversely, the findings of Bowles and others  indicate that Indianhemp populations did not survive after 8 dormant-season prescribed burns on graminoid fens in Cook County, Illinois. Indianhemp plants were recorded on the study plots before burning, but were not present after 5 years . On study plots dominated by post oak, winged elm (Ulmus alata), and white ash (Fraxinus americana) in southern Illinois, Indianhemp was observed during prefire sampling and not found in postfire months 5 or 6 (burns characterized as "moderate, at best") . In a sedge-beaked spikerush-Kentucky bluegrass (Carex spp.-Eleocharis rostellata-Poa pratensis) wetland near Tucson, Arizona, Indianhemp density increased more on control plots than burned plots. Indianhemp increased on high-frequency repeat spring burns (every 2-3 years), medium-frequency repeat spring burns (every 5-7 years), and unburned control plots . However, analyses of variance failed to demonstrate a significant (p=0.70) effect of burning on Indianhemp cover.
Broad-scale Impacts of Fire
The development of new Indianhemp plants 100 days following severe fire in Ontario, on a site previously dominated by white spruce and quaking aspen, resulted from rhizome and root crown sprouts .
Immediate Effect of Fire
Fire likely top-kills Indianhemp. It is probably resistant to fire-induced mortality because of its deep root and rhizome system.
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil
Geophyte, growing points deep in soil
Secondary colonizer (on-site or off-site seed sources)
Fire adaptations: Indianhemp has an extensive, deep root and rhizome system, and sprouts from the root crown and rhizomes after top-kill by fire. For example, populations near Ottawa, Ontario, sprouted from both rhizomes and root crowns following severe fire . Indianhemp also reproduces from wind-blown seed [96,97], so postfire establishment from seed is possible. The ability of Indianhemp to colonize disturbed areas may give it an advantage on burned soils.
FIRE REGIMES: The extensive distribution of Indianhemp places it in a wide range of fire regimes. Plains and mountain grasslands where Indianhemp occurs have short fire-return intervals and could burn in any year if fuels are cured . Indianhemp is found in communities with mixed-severity and understory FIRE REGIMES as described by Brown and Smith . The following table provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where Indianhemp occurs. For further information, see the FEIS review of the dominant species listed below.
|Community or Ecosystem||Dominant Species||Fire Return Interval Range (years)|
|maple-beech||Acer-Fagus spp.||684-1,385 [30,144]|
|maple-beech-birch||Acer-Fagus-Betula spp.||>1,000 |
|Nebraska sandhills prairie||Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus-Schizachyrium scoparium||<10|
|bluestem-Sacahuista prairie||Andropogon littoralis-Spartina spartinae||<10|
|sagebrush steppe||Artemisia tridentata/Pseudoroegneria spicata||20-70 |
|basin big sagebrush||Artemisia tridentata var. tridentata||12-43 |
|birch||Betula spp.||80-230 |
|plains grasslands||Bouteloua spp.||106,157]|
|blue grama-needle-and-thread grass-western wheatgrass||Bouteloua gracilis-Hesperostipa comata-Pascopyrum smithii||106,118,157]|
|blue grama-buffalo grass||Bouteloua gracilis-Buchloe dactyloides||106,157]|
|grama-galleta steppe||Bouteloua gracilis-Pleuraphis jamesii||106]|
|black ash||Fraxinus nigra||144]|
|green ash||Fraxinus pennsylvanica||<35 to >300 [47,144]|
|wheatgrass plains grasslands||Pascopyrum smithii||<5-47+ [106,111,157]|
|Great Lakes spruce-fir||Picea-Abies spp.||35 to >200|
|northeastern spruce-fir||Picea-Abies spp.||35-200 |
|jack pine||Pinus banksiana||30,45]|
|shortleaf pine||Pinus echinata||2-15|
|shortleaf pine-oak||Pinus echinata-Quercus spp.||<10 |
|longleaf-slash pine||Pinus palustris-P. elliottii||1-4 [103,144]|
|longleaf pine-scrub oak||Pinus palustris-Quercus spp.||6-10 |
|interior ponderosa pine*||Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum||2-30 [7,10,85]|
|red pine (Great Lakes region)||Pinus resinosa||3-18 (x=3-10) [29,53]|
|eastern white pine||Pinus strobus||35-200 [136,144]|
|Virginia pine||Pinus virginiana||10 to <35|
|Virginia pine-oak||Pinus virginiana-Quercus spp.||10 to <35|
|sycamore-sweetgum-American elm||Platanus occidentalis-Liquidambar styraciflua-Ulmus americana||<35 to 200 |
|eastern cottonwood||Populus deltoides||<35 to 200 |
|quaking aspen-paper birch||Populus tremuloides-Betula papyrifera||35-200 [45,144]|
|quaking aspen (west of the Great Plains)||Populus tremuloides||7-120 [7,60,95]|
|mountain grasslands||Pseudoroegneria spicata||3-40 (x=10) [6,7]|
|Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir*||Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca||25-100 [7,8,9]|
|oak-hickory||Quercus-Carya spp.||<35 |
|Oregon white oak||Quercus garryana||<35 |
|oak savanna||Quercus macrocarpa/Andropogon gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium||2-14 [106,144]|
|post oak-blackjack oak||Quercus stellata-Q. marilandica||<10 |
|little bluestem-grama prairie||Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp.||<35 |
Indianhemp is most often referred to as an early successional species. It colonizes disturbed sites, abandoned agricultural fields, and prairie pot hole wetlands [75,100,108]. On restored prairies in Arkansas, Indianhemp established during the 2nd year after disturbance, declined during the 3rd year, and generally disappeared or was greatly diminished by the 4th growing season, when it was overtopped by other species .
Indianhemp is occasional in older (20 to 30 years) jack pine (Pinus banksiana) and mixed-hardwood stands in New Brunswick .
Pollination: Indianhemp is visited by 19 species of bees and wasps, 17 species of flies, 2 species of butterflies and/or moths, 1 species of beetle, and 2 species of bugs and/or aphids. However, it appears that these visits do not succeed in pollination. Successful transfer of pollen seems to occur only when the insect is trapped in the flower and struggles to escape, in turn collecting pollen . Bees, butterflies, and flies were observed as nectar feeders on Apocynum flowers. Pollen was not observed on any of these insects after visiting the flowers . Indianhemp does not self pollinate [70,156].
Seed production: Indianhemp can produce numerous seeds [69,113]. A study by Shultz and Burnside  in Nebraska reveals that the number of seeds produced by an individual plant is dependent on the amount of competition for water, light, and nutrients. Grown without any competition Indianhemp produced up to 150 pods with 81 seeds per pod. When grown with soybeans (Glycine max), Indianhemp only produced 2 pods/plant on average . Seed production in disturbed areas was around 600/plant .
Seed dispersal: Indianhemp seeds are dispersed by wind and gravity [96,97,139]. The small seeds are specialized for dispersal over long distances. They have a very large, fine coma (a tuft of hairs on the seed) that facilitates wind dispersal [92,108,109,139,147].
Seed banking: Seed dormancy of Indianhemp is unclear, though viability of Indianhemp seed declines rapidly in soil [23,113]. Burial studies indicated that the seeds are not long-lived and that the seeds do not persist after 1 year in the soil [12,24]. In Pennsylvania Indianhemp has been found in the aboveground vegetation and not in the seed bank . Conversely, Indianhemp emerged from the seed bank of a Delaware River freshwater tidal wetland . Further research is needed on the seed dormancy of Indianhemp.
Germination: Germination ability of Indianhemp seed depends on burial depth and seed age. A long-term study done by Burnside and others  tested the viability of seeds buried at a depth of 8 inches (20 cm). At the 1st study site there was 74% seed germination at year 0, 22% seed germination after burial of 1 year, and 0% in years after that. At the 2nd site germination rates were 74% at year 0, 52% after year 1, 13% in year 2, and 1% in year 4 and 6 . In another laboratory study the greatest germination occurred when seeds were buried at 0.4 inch (1 cm), and germination declined greatly at greater depths .
A study by Everetts and Burnside  comparing temperature and germination of Indianhemp seed revealed that successful germination occurred between 59 ÂºF to 95 ÂºF (15-35 ÂºC). The highest germination rate occurred at 95 ÂºF (35 ÂºC).
Stratification inhibited Indianhemp seed germination in a greenhouse study done by Greene and Curtis . After 3 months of stratification 0% of the seeds germinated, while 10% of unstratified seed germinated.
Seedling establishment/growth: A study by Everetts and Burnside  comparing Indianhemp seedling development and temperature found seedling establishment occurred at 59 ÂºF to 95 ÂºF (15-35 ÂºC). Indianhemp could not establish seedlings at or below 50 ÂºF (10 ÂºC) or at or above 100 ÂºF (40 ÂºC) . Best establishment occurs on moist sites .
Asexual regeneration: Apocynum species spread by cloning . Indianhemp reproduces by rhizomes or sprouting from the root crown . Aerial shoots arise from adventitious rhizome buds. Rhizomes spread extensively, forming new plants at "considerable" distances [76,99]. Seedlings are capable of sprouting within 10 to 41 days of emergence [15,119].
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
More info for the terms: geophyte, hemicryptophyte
RAUNKIAER  LIFE FORM:
Fire Management Considerations
Life History and Behavior
More info for the term: rhizome
Seasonal development of Indianhemp begins with emergence in late spring or early summer [69,140]. Established plants initiate growth in the spring from root crown and rhizome buds [116,160]. The lateral cymes continue to add vegetative tissue, prolonging the productive potential of the plant. In this manner Indianhemp may continue bloom and vegetative growth from spring until late in the autumn, giving it a distinct advantage over the much shorter periods of growth of the other Apocynum species .
The seasonal nonstructural carbohydrate levels of Indianhemp decline with vegetative growth in the spring, reach seasonal lows during flowering, and then increase until fall dormancy .
The following table details the different flowering periods of Indianhemp throughout its distribution.
|Arizona||May to August |
|California||June to August [101,102]|
|Illinois||May to August [89,98]|
|Kansas||Mid-May to mid-August |
|Nebraska||June to August |
|Nevada||June to August |
|New Mexico||May to September |
|North Dakota||June to July |
|Ohio||June to August |
|Texas||April to July [38,46]|
|Utah - Uinta Basin||June to August |
|Great Plains||May to September [58,135]|
|Intermountain west||May to August |
|Northern Great Plains||June to August, fruiting August to October |
|Pacific Northwest||June to September [64,65]|
|Nova Scotia||July to August |
|Baja California||June to July |
Phenological data for Indianhemp growing along a tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) waterway at Lincoln, Nebraska is given below .
|Emergence||April 18||April 29|
|Bud||May 20||June 2|
|Early flower||May 26||June 13|
|Full bloom||June 4||June 21|
|Pod initiation||June 17||not produced|
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Apocynum cannabinum
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Indianhemp is considered a serious weed problem in agricultural fields in the
Midwest and can cause decreases in yield [14,22,76,104,116,147,148,149,150,160].
Infestations tend to occur in agricultural crops where no-tillage systems have
been implemented, which allow for Indianhemp's rhizome and root system to become
well established [56,147,148,149]. Reductions in yield are reportedly due
to allelopathic influences of Indianhemp [122,159]. Indianhemp is also considered
a weed species in nurseries, plantations where Christmas
trees are grown, and in orchards [64,65,80].
Indianhemp increases on grazed pastures in South Dakota .
Many management strategies have been used to try to control Indianhemp,
with different levels of success. Complete control is difficult due to
Indianhemp's persistent and extensive root and rhizome system .
A successful management program to control Indianhemp likely
includes a combination of cultural, mechanical (tillage including the usage of plows, disks, or
cultivators), and chemical methods  as well as an appropriate schedule for
implementing these methods. There is widespread agreement that timing of control methods is
critical and can make weed management very difficult [56,104,147,149]. Fall herbicide treatments
have provided better control than spring treatments. The
spring treatments can effectively control Indianhemp, but the timing often occurs
when the most damage can be done to other herbs [14,116,160].
Becker  states that herbicide application timing should coincide
with late bud to early flower set, or beyond. Mechanical methods such as mowing,
cultivation, or tilling practices should be implemented at mid- to full-flower,
before root carbohydrate levels begin, to recover to maximize carbohydrate depletion .
Mechanical control has been shown to decrease and increase infestations. Numerous Indianhemp
sprouts occurred on study plots that had the soil scraped off. The scraping and deep plowing
destroyed most of the perennating tissues except for the some deeply buried
rhizomes. The following
year Indianhemp continued to spread and increase in height. A steady decrease was
observed in the following years, until it was absent
or of little importance . Buhler and others  state that Indianhemp can be
controlled by tillage systems. Tillage can reduce infestations if done
frequently (every 2 to 3 weeks) enough to deplete underground root reserves .
Increases in infestations where tillage practices are used have been attributed
to tillage equipment moving parts of the root systems to new areas and by breaking
dormancy of underground buds, resulting in new shoot growth [122,160].
Chemical control has also had mixed success. The seedlings are
"easily controlled" by most soil-applied herbicides including 2, 4-D and glyphosate.
Once seedlings become established, control becomes much more difficult .
A broad range of herbicides was reported to be effective (80% to
≥92%) on Indianhemp seedlings in a greenhouse study in Delaware . Depending on the herbicide,
applications made during the vegetative stage of growth provide a shorter-term
control than applications made during the early reproductive stage. Applying
herbicides during the early
reproductive stage provides the longer-term control but can be harmful to other
herbs . Applications of the "traditionally safe" herbicides sulfometuron
methyl and imazapyr were used on Indianhemp in eastern white pine plantations were unsuccessful .
Glenn and Anderson  report good Indianhemp control
with herbicide applications of 1 or more of the following: 2, 4-D,
dicamba, nicosulfuron, and triclopyr; however, regrowth from the root crown occurred
occasionally. Herbicide treatments reduce the vigor of Indianhemp plants but
often do not kill them .
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
APCA is available from native plant nurseries within its range.
When used for fiber, Indian hemp is collected in the autumn after the leaves have begun to senesce or dry up and the stalks turn a deep reddish brown color. Plants are cut at the base of the stem. Cutting the plants appears to stimulate new growth in the spring; so as many stalks as possible are cut. Plants are then split open and the fibers removed and processed into cordage. After winter, the fibers have disintegrated and the stems are still standing, but full of mush or empty. The fibers can't be removed after one winter.
There are only two known large sites for traditional harvest of Indian hemp for fiber in California; one at Yosemite and one near Santa Rosa. In the Columbia Basin, though Indian hemp might be found in many low-lying areas, certain stands of hemp grew higher and straighter, and the long strands produced were prized for the strength of the twine made from them. So special was this resource area that violent conflict (otherwise uncommon) occurred between Wanapam Sahaptins and Columbia Salish over access to the hemp (Relander 1956)
Vast quantities of fiber plants are required for nets, regalia, and cordage. Blackburn and Anderson (1993) quote Craig Bates of the Yosemite Museum that it takes approximately five stalks of milkweed or Indian hemp to manufacture one foot of cordage. A Sierra Miwok feather skirt or cape contain about 100 feet of cordage made from approximately 500 plant stalks, while a deer net 40 feet in length (Barrett and Gifford 1933:178) contained some 7,000 feet of cordage, which would have required the harvesting of a staggering 35,000 plant stalks. Therefore, propagation and conservation of this species for fiber is very important for production of traditionally manufactured cordage, which is still used today.
Both milkweed and dogbane are burned in the fall to eliminate dead stalks and stimulate new growth. Burning causes new growth to have taller, straighter stems (with longer fibers). It also stimulates flower and seed production.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
Indianhemp is poisonous to all livestock, although domestic sheep are affected more than other animals [15,33,35,69,110,119,123,129,140]. However, actual cases of livestock poisoning from Indianhemp are rare [15,35]. Traces of Indianhemp were found in rumen samples of pronghorn and white-tailed deer in Montana, but no animals were observed eating it [2,32].
Indianhemp is a primary host for 2 species of leaf beetle . It is also a host plant for Chrysochus auratus (a root beetle) in Iowa. Chrysochus auratus mating and ovipositing occur on Indianhemp throughout the summer. Once hatched, the larvae drop to the ground and tunnel to the roots of the host plants, where they feed and overwinter .
Butterfly gardeners grow Indianhemp because it is a valuable native nectar plant .
Palatability/nutritional value: Indianhemp is unpalatable at all seasons, even to livestock that are virtually starving . Animals usually avoid Indianhemp because of the bitter, sticky, milky-white juice; however, domestic sheep may eat large quantities if other forage is scarce [69,140].
All parts of Indianhemp, fresh or dried, are poisonous because of the toxic glycoside it contains [33,35,69,123,140]. The levels of the glycoside, cymarin, in Indianhemp are disputed. Knight  claims the levels of cymarin are low and Majak  states that there are high concentrations. Death from Indianhemp poisoning may occur 6 to 12 hours after animals eat the plant. A lethal dose for domestic sheep is about 0.5 to 1 ounce/100 pounds of body weight. A lethal dose for cattle and horses is about 0.5 to 0.75 ounce/100 pounds of body weight [69,140].
Cover value: Cover of Indianhemp for wildlife has been rated as follows :
|small nongame birds||fair||----|
|upland game birds||poor||----|
Other uses and values
Indianhemp is known for its importance to early Native Americans. The strong, fibrous root and stem fibers were used to make fish nets, rope, thread, baskets, cloth, and bags [1,4,15,28,35,78,105,121,128,138,156].
Indianhemp is known to have many medicinal purposes. The glycoside, cymarin, was used as a cardiac stimulant, a diuretic, a diaphoretic, a febrifuge, a rheumatism remedy, and a treatment for gall stones [35,69,78,128,140]. The dried milky fluid in the stems can be used as a chewing gum substitute .
The fragrant flowers attract honeybees for nectar, making a "superior," almost colorless honey .
There may be potential for using Indianhemp as a hydrocarbon-producing crop as an energy alternative .
Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites
Warning - Indian hemp can be toxic if ingested without proper preparation.
Ethnobotanic: Indian hemp is harvested for fiber. The stems are cut in the fall; they are then split open and the long, silky fibers removed. The fibers are then twisted into string, which provides cordage. String, thread, rope, baskets, snares, netting, and clothing were made from the bast fibers of the Indian hemp plant because they are so silky yet strong. Cordage was then used to make tump straps, belts, netted bags, hairnets, and ceremonial regalia (capes, skirts, and head-dresses).
The fiber was particularly useful in making fishing and carrying nets, for string and for ropes, and to some extent for weaving rough cloth. In California, Indian hemp and milkweed are used somewhat interchangeably for cordage. The Luiseño of southern California for their dance regalia used Indian hemp; the golden eagle or other feathers are tied to netting for the dance skirt for men (Merriam 1955). The wild hemp was also used by the Chemeweve for snares for otter and rabbits (Ibid.)
Dogbane is very important to tribes in the Columbia Plateau in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho for basketry. The Quinalt, Kalispel, Nez Perce, Spokane, Umatilla, Wasco, Wishram, Yakima, and Klikitat used dogbane for cordage and basketry.
Families use the native twine to tie together the frames for their winter lodges. They used it to sew cattails and tules into sturdy mats to cover these frames and to serve as carpeting, furniture, beds, and utensils. Dip nets, set nets, and seines were made of dogbane. The nets were strong enough to hold the giant sturgeon caught in the Columbia River.
Of all the important uses for Indian hemp, the itatamat , or "counting the days" ball, was perhaps the most significant for the people themselves. From the time of her marriage, a woman would record a calendar of her life's events by tying knots on a length of hemp as important events occurred. She marked births, deaths, and other extraordinary days with beads, shells or other talismans. When the ball got too large to handle easily, she started a new ball.
Flat twined bags ("sally bags"), round twined bags and basketry caps were made with dogbane. Soft bags were made using twine from Indian hemp or milkweed decorated with cornhusk imbrication. Basket bottoms and top margins were of woven cedar bark. These soft bags conform to the shape of a load of roots of camas or other plants.
Later explorers reported that the Nez Perce and other tribes stored berries, roots, and nuts in bags about one by two feet, and used larger bags up to three feet long for clothing and other personal effects. Early visitor to the Mid-Columbia also described piles of filled bags in the corners or hung along the wall in native homes. One weaver estimated that it took two to three months to twine a large root-storage bag.
As a medium of trade, barter, or wager, the bags in the early days were considered only the wrapping or container for the dried roots they held. The largest of the bags would hold just under a half-bushel or nearly four dry gallons of camas or bitterroot bulbs. Now, the bags themselves are highly valued as trade items. The flat twined bags have been widely traded to other tribes, such as the Crow and Blackfeet of Montana.
Today, the wapanii sapk'ukt, or "twined handbag," is the most popular form of flat twined bags. It is carried with great pride as part of ceremonial regalia, the twined handbag emphasizing the distinct cultural heritage of the person who carries it. Today, cotton twine usually replaces Indian hemp in basketry; however, very special ceremonial bags are still made with Indian hemp.
The biochemical constituents in Indian hemp are apocynin, apocynamarin, cymarin, and and rosin. Indian hemp could be dried, crushed, and then snuffed for coughs in head colds. The root was made into a tea and was used to help a baby’s cold, earache, headache, nervousness, dizziness, worms and insanity. This tea was also taken for heart palpitations, but care should be observed if using it for cardiac disorders. It acts as a vaso-constrictor, slows and strengthens the heartbeat, and raises blood pressure. The root could also be used as an emetic, diaphoretic, antispasmodic, cathartic, anodyne, hypnotic, laxative, treats vomiting, diarrhea, hydrocephalus, urinary difficulties, dropsy, jaundice, liver problems, and stimulates the digestive system. It has been successfully employed for alcoholism. A wash made of crushed root can be shampooed into the hair to stimulate growth, remove dandruff and head lice. The milky juice can remove warts. A poultice of the leaves reduces tumors, hemorrhoids, and inflammation of the testicles. The poultice placed over the eyelids works on opthalmia and eye diseases. The leaves ground into powder can dress wounds, sores and ulcers.
Erosion Control: The extensive root system on Indian hemp provides good slope and streambank stabilization and erosion control functions. The flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies, and other insects. The plant itself is toxic; so many forms of wildlife do not eat it. Indian hemp is considered a noxious weed because of its invasive nature and its toxicity to domestic livestock.
Invasive Potential: This plant can be invasive in orchards and cultivated areas, so is not a garden plant. The small, inconspicuous flowers and weedy growth form doesn't have horticultural appeal.
Apocynum cannabinum (Dogbane, Amy Root, Hemp Dogbane, Prairie Dogbane, Indian Hemp, Rheumatism Root, or Wild Cotton) is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows throughout much of North America - in the southern half of Canada and throughout the United States. It is a poisonous plant: Apocynum means "poisonous to dogs". All parts of the plant are poisonous and can cause cardiac arrest if ingested. The cannabinum in the scientific name and the common names Hemp Dogbane and Indian Hemp refer to its similarity to Cannabis as a fiber plant (see Hemp), rather than as a source of a psychoactive drug (see Cannabis (drug))
Although dogbane is poisonous to livestock, it likely got its name from its resemblance to a European species of the same name.
Distribution and habitat
Apocynum cannabinum grows up to 2 meters/6 feet tall. The stems are reddish and contain a milky latex capable of causing skin blisters. The leaves are opposite, simple broad lanceolate, 7–15 cm long and 3–5 cm broad, entire, and smooth on top with white hairs on the underside. It flowers from July to August, has large sepals, and a five-lobed white corolla. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by moths and butterflies.
In gardens it can be invasive, growing from spreading roots. When growing among corn, Apocynum cannabinum can reduce yields by up to 10% and when growing among soybeans, by up to 40%. It can be controlled through mechanical means, although it is difficult to control with herbicides.
The plant can be used for various purposes. The most used parts are the seeds, the root and the bark.
A very strong and good quality fiber obtained from the bark is a flax substitute that does not shrink and retains its strength in water. It is used for making clothes, twine, bags, linen, paper, etc. The plant yields a latex which is a possible source of rubber. Apocynum cannabinum was used as a source of fiber by Native Americans, to make hunting nets, fishing lines, clothing, and twine. It is called qéemu [qǽːmu] in Nez Perce and [taxʷɨ́s] in Sahaptin. The Concow tribe call the plant pö (Konkow language).
String and cordage
It is also used in herbal medicine to treat fever, and dysentery. Although the toxins from the plant can cause nausea and catharsis[dubious ], it has also been used for slowing the pulse, and it is also a sedative and mild hypnotic. It is an unpleasantly bitter stimulant irritant herb that acts on the heart, respiratory and urinary systems, and also on the uterus. Apocynum cannabinum was much employed by various Native American tribes who used it to treat a wide variety of complaints including rheumatism, coughs, pox, whooping cough, asthma, internal parasites, diarrhoea and also to increase milk flow in lactating mothers. The root has been used as a tonic, cardiotonic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic (induces vomitting) and expectorant. It is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. The fresh root is the most active part medicinally. A weak tea made from the dried root has been used for cardiac diseases and also as a vermifuge (an agent that expels parasitic worms). The milky sap is a (presumably topically applied) folk remedy for venereal warts. The plant is still used in modern herbalism, though it should be used with great caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner if taken internally.
- "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved June 18, 2014.
- Apocynum cannabinum, ITIS report
- Biota of North America Program 2013 county distribution map
- Heiser, C. B. (2003). Weeds in my Garden: Observations on some Misunderstood Plants. Portland, OR: Timber Press. p. 50. ISBN 0-88192-562-4.
- "Apocynum cannabinum Indian Hemp PFAF Plant Database". Retrieved Jan 4, 2015.
- Coville, F. V. (1897). "Notes On The Plants Used By The Klamath Indians Of Oregon" (pdf). Contributions from the U.S. National Herbarium 5 (2): 87–108 (p. 103).
- Chesnut, V. K. (1902). "Plants used by the Indians of Mendocino County, California". Contributions from the U.S. National Herbarium 7 (3): 295–408 (p. 407). LCCN 08010527.
|Wikiversity has bloom time data for Apocynum cannabinum on the Bloom Clock|
- Blanchan, Neltje (2002). Wild Flowers: An Aid to Knowledge of our Wild Flowers and their Insect Visitors. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.
- A. Davis, K. Renner, C. Sprague, L. Dyer, D. Mutch (2005). Integrated Weed Management. MSU.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Kartesz (1994 and 1999) does not recognize infraspecific taxa within Apocynum cannabinum.
Hybridization is a common occurrence in this genus . Apocynum ÃÂ floribundum Greene is
a hybrid of spreading dogbane (A. androsaemifolium) and Indianhemp [3,70].
When information specific to Indianhemp is not
available, information on the genus Apocynum is given.
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