The Indian hemp, together with the smaller plant, spreading dogbane, is one of the slightly poisonous plants of America. It escapes being a menace to human life simply because there is little about the Indian hemp to invite a. human being to eat it. Bu1 cattle, horses, and sheep occasionally eat either the dried or the green leaves and suffer ill effects from a toxic ingredient called cymarin.
Apocynum cannabinum L.
Summer Bottomlands. sands.
Indian hemp, however, seems to cause little alarm among stock raiser.-. The plant seldom grows in pastures or other land where livestock are allowed to graze. In sandy country, bottomland fields and on beaches, the deep tap roots of Indian hemp firmly fix themselves. The pinkish stem branches, bears blue-green, oval, tapering leaves with a whitish or pinkish midrib, and the flowers at the tops of the stems are produced in clusters. The flowers are small, bell-shaped, with five spreading petal divisions, and are somewhat fragrant. In the late summer, autumn, and all through the winter, as long as the dead stalks stand, the long, bean-like pod- of winged seeds remain. In the manner of milkweeds, the pods split and the seeds fluff out and fly away. The Indian hemp, in fact, is closely related to the milkweed- and has not only silky seeds hut an acrid milky juice. Yellow warblers and goldfinches are among the birds which make use of the Indian hemp fluff in their nests.
The silky ravels of fibers which split away from the -talk- also are used by birds tor their nests. In the past, these strong fibers were used tor cordage by Indians of the region.