Apocynum androsaemifolium (Spreading Dogbane)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Apocynaceae (Dogbane)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; dry, open woods, woodland edges, thickets, roadsides
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: UPL MW: UPL NCNE: UPL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: bell Cluster type: panicle Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Bell-shaped flower, pink to white with pink stripes on the inside, 1/3 inch long, with 5 flaring lobes that curl back. Flowers are in groups of 2 to 10 at the end of stems that branch out from the leaf axils in the upper part of the plant, or at the end of a leaf branch.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 1½ to 4 inches long and up to 2 inches wide, generally oval with pointed tips and a short leaf stalk. They are toothless, usually hairy underneath, sometimes have a slightly wavy edge, and may be drooping. Attachment is opposite. The branching stems are often more horizontal than erect, as if under too much weight from the flowers. Stems are green or red.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a slender pod 2 to 6 inches long that ripens from green to a dull red.


Spreading Dogbane is fairly common along roadsides in Minnesota but the small flowers make it inconspicuous, until fall colors turn it bright yellow. Then it is hard to miss the small patches scattered along highways and county roads. A big mass we found along a roadway in Cass County (see more photos below) was a real treat.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, New Brighton, MN, and along a roadside in Cass County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Aitkin counties.


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

Posted by: Lisa - Nevis (north central)
on: 2009-08-20 14:17:56

Grows along the Heartland Trail.

Posted by: Kathleen - Black Hills South Dakota
on: 2011-07-19 16:12:57

Found a patch in my yard. What a surprise!

Posted by: Laurie - Leonard
on: 2011-08-28 15:48:36

We have 160 acres that hasn't been farmed since the 1950's. The wildflowers are making quite a comeback and the side of one huge hill is covered with these. When you get hundreds of plants together they have a very sweet smell.

Posted by: Robert - Theodore Wirth Park, Minneapolis, MN
on: 2012-06-30 08:23:58

Along trailside, SE corner of park. Bell shaped flowers are very similar to Lilies of the Valley with a wonderful fragrance of their own.

Posted by: Jill - Itasca County
on: 2013-07-15 08:20:59

Lots of this in bloom right now in the northeast corner of Itasca County.

Posted by: Chris - Douglas County
on: 2014-09-04 18:03:04

I would love to find this in Douglas County, esp. Alexandria area, to collect seed or if appropriate dig plants. Can anyone help me out? None of the native plant sources that I know of have seed or plants.

Posted by: Pat W - Pillager
on: 2015-05-28 12:07:31

These grow wild in my natural environment yard area. They pop up, literally, in late May. A sprig comes out of the ground and at about 18" tall starts to leaf out. Provides a very pretty foliage and bloom.

Posted by: Ann - Todd County
on: 2015-06-29 14:24:21

Tons of this on our farm. If the gentleman from Alexandria wants some, he is more than welcome to it! We are about 30 miles from Alexandria.

Posted by: luciearl - Lake Shore, MN
on: 2015-07-12 12:14:26

Lot of this growing on our hill down to the lake. It's been a drier summer, so not as many blossoms or are they getting too crowded? Pleasant sweet fragrance.

Posted by: Chris - Douglas
on: 2015-10-04 17:29:43

I have been noticing it in Blue Earth county now. Can anyone tell me if this gets as tall as four and a half feet tall? Is there an apocynum x floribundum in MN?

Posted by: Carol D - Kanabec County
on: 2017-06-28 15:39:00

I just noticed these this year across the street, around our mailbox in Kanabec county and in our woods around our house in Pine county. We live on the county line so our mailbox is in a different county than our house is.

Posted by: Byron N - Le Sueur
on: 2017-08-21 16:50:25

This prolific "weed" appeared for the first time in our driveway ditches this summer. At first, we mistook it for milkweed. But the similarity is superficial. I suspect one had best be careful to control the spread.

Posted by: Sharon L Adams - NORTH BRANCH
on: 2018-06-28 10:31:43

I saw this along an in-town walking trail in North Branch right off Hwy 61.

Posted by: Jessie - Gooseberry Falls State Park
on: 2018-08-06 09:10:02

Saw these beautiful little things up at Gooseberry Falls this first weekend of August. Loved their little striped flowers.

Posted by: Ruth Henriquez Lyon - Duluth, MN
on: 2019-06-14 19:23:20

We have a small but increasing patch of this in a clearing along West Victoria St. in the Kenwood area of Duluth. We cleared out a huge thicket of buckthorn and tansy almost 2 years ago (autumn of 2017)in this area, and discovered several species of wild plants that had been holding on for dear life under the heavy cover of the buckthorn. The dogbane was one of them.

The area is dry and rocky, and gets sand and salt tossed up by the snow plows. There is a woods to the north of this small clearing, and some trees to the east which give some shade but it is mostly sunny. We are encouraging the dogbane and the other natives to take over this patch of land.

Posted by: Becky - Cook County
on: 2020-07-08 15:29:16

These weeds may be beautiful however if they get into your garden they are horrible to get rid of!! Use caution where you are planting!!! No joke the roots are an inch in diameter and creep under for yards- any recommendations on how to get rid of it?

Posted by: HOLLY - Wuori Township
on: 2020-07-19 16:01:03

Found these up along the hiking trail just past Virginia (lookout mountain)

Posted by: Lori Kennedy - Lake Elmo. Washington County
on: 2020-08-06 20:06:26

I noticed the pretty little bell shaped flowers while walking at Lake Elmo Park Resrve in Washington County.

Posted by: JJ Robeck - Champlin, 55316
on: 2021-06-17 18:09:42

Found in my backyard next to my neighbors fence, growing through the base branches of a lilac. We live near a preserve, in a landscaped neighborhood, through which deer and other wildlife regularly wander, which may explain how it came to be here.

Posted by: Martina Pieper - Winsted
on: 2021-06-29 18:51:30

On the edge of Luce Line trail towards Hutchinson. Love the candy cane stripes on the flowers!

Posted by: Laura G Ross - White BearLake area,Ramsey County
on: 2022-07-04 22:13:58

We have 7 acres, mostly woods surrounding about an acre+ for our house and gardens, and a hill for the septic which faces south and is planted with natives. I planted a rain garden 2 years ago, and put in a couple dozen different natives, and then dogbane sprouted a couple of years ago. Last year a few dozen plants surrounded the rain garden, and this year they are thick, drowning out much of the garden.I ripped out the dogbane in the rain garden and will be taking out much of the rest. It appears to come up like milkweed, with underground roots reaching in all directions and popping up everywhere. Pretty but incredibly invasive.

Posted by: Amy Pavek - Long Prairie, Lake Latimer
on: 2023-07-03 14:23:08

In the woods at Lake Latimer

Posted by: luciearl - Lake Shore
on: 2024-05-31 09:20:27

There are clusters of spreading dogbane near me in Cass County. I took a few samples from the ditch and now is spreading in the understory at home, hill down to the lake. Trail construction on my property nearby has torn up all my wildflowers. Sad, but I'm going to start some "easy growers", spreading dogbane as one.

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