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Asclepias exaltata

Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Asclepias bicknellii
  • Asclepias phytolaccoides
  • Asclepias syriaca var. exaltata
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Poke Milkweed is an herbaceous perennial wildflower plant in the dogbane (Apocynaceae) family, native to eastern Canada to north central and eastern United States, including North Carolina. Growing in moist woodland habitats, forest edges or openings, along waterways, and on slopes, it is most often found in the mountains. The Genus honors the Greek god of medicine, Asclepius (Asklepios); the species name comes from the Latin exaltata, meaning “lofty,” and refers to the plants being very tall. The leaves’ similarity to those of American Pokeweed is the source of the common name Poke Milkweed.

Requires moist, acid-to-neutral pH soil with high organic content in partial shade or dappled sunlight, to full sun. Propagate from seeds.

Grows best in naturalized plantings on woodland edges. Also consider including poke milkweed in butterfly, native, or pollinator gardens, as well as in borders. Umbels of drooping flowers give this species a unique look.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No significant disease problems. Most common milkweed pests (aphids, milkweed beetles, Monarch larvae, and milkweed tussock moth larvae) are not problematic, but both large and small milkweed bugs can be very damaging to seed pods.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#moist soil#NC native#native garden#Monarch butterfly#NC Native Pollinator Plant#butterfly friendly#problem for cats#problem for dogs#bee friendly#problem for horses#butterfly caterpillar host#sun#butterfly garden#pollinator garden#part shade#partial shade
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#moist soil#NC native#native garden#Monarch butterfly#NC Native Pollinator Plant#butterfly friendly#problem for cats#problem for dogs#bee friendly#problem for horses#butterfly caterpillar host#sun#butterfly garden#pollinator garden#part shade#partial shade
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Asclepias
    Species:
    exaltata
    Family:
    Apocynaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Historically, the root was eaten raw for stomach problems.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    North America
    Distribution:
    CT, DE, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV Canada: ON, QC
    Wildlife Value:
    Nectar and larval host plant that attracts bees, butterflies (notably Monarchs), hummingbirds (milkweeds are a source of insects as well as nectar), moths (especially milkweed tussock moths and their larvae), pollinators, predatory Insects, and specialized bees.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 7 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 10 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Follicle
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Fruits are smooth follicles forming upright 3- to 6-inch long pods filled with brown seeds attached to coma (white fluffy fiber) that facilitates wind dispersal
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Umbel
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Loose umbels, both terminal and upper axillary, have 10 to 25 small white flowers touched with green and lavender, each with 5 petals with reflexed light pink corollas. The corollas have light pink hoods with protruding horns. Each flower is on a long (.75 to 2 inches), drooping pedicel. Blooms in summer.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Green leaves with purplish veins are simple, entire, arranged oppositely and attached by short (approximately .5 inch) petioles. They are 2 to 11 inches long and 1 to 4 inches wide, ending in a pointed tip; smooth on top, but hairy underneath.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Plant stems are green, smooth or slightly hairy; umbel stems are purplish.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Can cause stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, weakness, lethargy, and confusion if eaten in quantity. Milky sap can cause contact dermatitis and eye irritation.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Cardiac glycoside
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes