Apocynum cannabinum

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: Indian hemp 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Apocynaceae
Native Range: Northeastern United States, Canada
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: White to green
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Drought


Grow in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Prefers sandy soil. Aggressive plant that often grows in the wild in colonies and can be very aggressive in cultivation.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Apocynum cannabinum is a bushy member of the dogbane and milkweed family that features opposite, lance-shaped leaves on upright, stiff stems with terminal clusters of very tiny, whitish flowers that bloom in summer. All parts of this dogbane exude a milky juice when bruised. Although this plant is considered toxic to humans (and the bane of dogs), the roots were commonly harvested in the 19th and early 20th centuries for a variety of folk medicine and medical purposes. A Missouri native that typically grows in the wild in dry rocky or open woods, glades and prairies. Stems are fibrous (cannabinum meaning hemp) and were once used to make rope. Very attractive to butterflies.

Genus name comes from the classical Greek name for this or a related plant. Believed to be poisonous to dogs.

Specific epithet means like Cannabis or hemp.


No serious insect or disease problems. Because of its aggressive spreading growth habit it should be grown in areas where it will not crowd out other garden perennials.


A good plant to naturalize in a butterfly garden, native plant garden or wild garden.