Doggies beware! Apocynum, which means “poisonous to dogs” is native to New England and Florida. The full name is Apocynum cannabinum. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and cardiac arrest if eaten. It is extremely poisonous to dogs. The sap can be made into chewing gum and rubber. After the latex has been squeezed from the plant, it has to harden into a white gum overnight.
It has pink to white flowers that grows in many clusters. It is also known as Amy Root, Hemp Dogbane, Prairie Dogbane, Indian Hemp, Rheumatism Root, or Wild Cotton. grows in open wooded areas, ditches, and hillsides. It is found in gravelly or sandy soil, mainly near streams in shady or moist places.
Since the plant is a good source of fiber, Native Americans made it into hunting nets, fishing lines , clothing and twine. Fiber from the bark is a flax substitute and it does not shrink and retains its strength in water. In modern times, it is used to make clothing, twine, bags, linen and paper. In fall, the toxins drain from the roots and the plant can be harvested to make strong string and cordage for bows, fire-bows, nets and tie down straps. The seeds can be eaten when ground into a powder.
It has been used in herbal medicine to treat fever and dysentery, infection of the intestines. The toxins can cause nausea and it is used for slowing the pulse, sedative and hypnotising. It tastes bitter and has effects on the heart, breathing and waste systems.