Apocynum cannabinum (Indian Hemp)

Plant Info
Also known as: Prairie Dogbane, Hemp Dogbane
Family:Apocynaceae (Dogbane)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist soil, ditches, along roads, deciduous woods
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:1 to 5 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: flat Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] Clusters of ¼-inch or smaller tubular or bell-shaped flowers. Individual flowers have 5 white or greenish-white petals, fused at the base, the lobes erect or flaring. One plant usually has several clusters, at the top of the plant and at the end of branching stems in the upper part of the plant. The center, terminal flowers in the cluster open first. The clusters start out round then spread out to a broader, more flattened cluster.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are generally oval with a pointed tip, rounded or narrowing at the base, up to 6 inches long and 2½ inches wide with smooth edges and white or cream colored veins. There is usually a short but distinct leaf stalk, most noticeable on the branches, though lower leaves may be stalkless. Leaves frequently point up. The underside of the leaves is sometimes slightly hairy. Stems are typically hairless and reddish brown and exude a milky sap when broken. The leaves and stem can have a waxy feel to them.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a pair of hanging, slender, slightly curved pods 4 to 8 inches long. Inside are small brown seeds with a tuft of white hair to carry them off in the wind.


Indian Hemp and related Clasping Dogbane (Apocynum sibiricum) are very similar, the only noticeable differences are the latter has (mostly) stalkless, clasping leaves and sometimes has yellowish flowers. The dogbane beetle (Chrysochus auratus) is a phytophagus (plant eating) insect that feeds exclusively on dogbanes (Apocynum spp.). No matter how you feel about insects, this one is as beautiful as a butterfly, with lovely irridescent green armor.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, New Brighton. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka county.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Barb - southwest MN
on: 2010-08-04 20:31:34

We have some of these growing on the margins of our fields of corn and soybeans.

Posted by: Jeffrey - mpls
on: 2013-09-05 06:14:51

prairie restoration along river rounds bike paths and cedar lake it was the grand rounds rail yard at one time. Now it's full of good healthy wild flowers, and lots of picture opportunities to be had. Through out the spring summer and fall. Bugs Bee's and just awesome colors to enjoy.!! Come And See For Your Self... A lot of rare species. Exotic as well... I cant pull them all lol. and they come back ten fold. Geez Butter and Eggs looks so cute to and bee's really love them too. OH 'well have fun

Posted by: J.H. - Martin County, Rooney Run Wildlife Mngmt Area
on: 2014-08-10 07:44:27

Also saw the beautiful Dogbane Beetle on it.

Posted by: TJ
on: 2015-09-22 16:48:20

This plant also makes excellent cordage from the fibers.

Posted by: Mary Baskerville - Tracy,MN Lyon County
on: 2020-06-26 18:46:39

I have been switching my very small yard to natives, but mother nature planted this. It is on the nest-door property of the Tracy Headlight Herald, our local paper. It some how blew in and is thriving.

Posted by: Tamie Egge - Lindgren-Traeger Bird Sanctuary, Heron Lake
on: 2023-07-07 14:11:22

Seen along the access road.

Posted by: Cynthia Sabinske - Camden State Park
on: 2023-09-18 08:05:05

I observed this plant at Camden State Park, hadn't seen this before.

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