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Common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca

Previously known as:

  • Asclepias apocinum
  • Asclepias pubescens
  • Asclepias syriaca f. inermis
Phonetic Spelling
as-KLEE-pee-as seer-ee-AY-kah
This plant has medium severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Common milkweed is an erect, native perennial herb with milky sap.  Wear gloves when gardening with this plant to avoid skin irrigation.  It grows in average well-drained soils in the full sun but it tolerates poor or dry soils.  It propagates easily by seed and will naturalize in the garden.  It can also spread through its rhizomes.

Site: Fields, roadsides, waste places; dry soil

Found in: Weedy in disturbed areas, native or naturalized in waste places, roadsides, fields.

Use in naturalized areas, meadows, butterfly gardens or native flower gardens as herbaceous perennials but beware of planting in borders as it spreads quickly.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems but can be weedy.  It does not tolerate shade.

Cultivars:
Tags:
#native#butterflies#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#larval food#pink flowers#wildflowers#weedy#nectar plant#low maintenance#naturalize#meadow#dry soil#erosion control#larval host#dried flowers#deer resistant#Monarch butterflies#butterfly garden#dusty pink
Cultivars:
Tags:
#native#butterflies#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#larval food#pink flowers#wildflowers#weedy#nectar plant#low maintenance#naturalize#meadow#dry soil#erosion control#larval host#dried flowers#deer resistant#Monarch butterflies#butterfly garden#dusty pink
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Asclepias
    Species:
    syriaca
    Family:
    Apocynaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Native Americans used the plant as a fiber source. During WWII the seeds were collected and the hairy coma or "floss" on the seeds was used in making life jackets. The coma is used today for pillows and blankets.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central & E. Canada to Central & E. U.S.A., NC
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers provide a nectar source for butterflies and bees and the plant is the larval host plant of the monarch butterfly.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 8 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Wildflower
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Good Dried
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Fruit a hairy and spiked gray follicle dry and inflated, 2"-4" long 1 2/3" wide erect, with a thick end and tapered tip. It has many hair-tufted seeds that are wind dispersed. Seed pod has a warty appearance and is used in dried flower arrangments.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Umbel
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    2- to 3-in., domed umbel of dusty pink or lavender 5 petaled flowers with up to 100 flowers per cluster and 1-3 clusters per stem. They grow in the leaf axis; often drooping. The bloom season is long-lasting from late spring through summer.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    3- to 12-inch, thick light green opposite, oblong leaves; downy underside; reddish veins, rounded at both ends or abruptly pointed at the tip. Milky sap when crushed.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Have a milky liquid when crushed.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Erosion
    Problems:
    Poisonous
    Weedy
  • Poison:
    Poison Severity:
    Medium
    Poison Symptoms:
    TOXIC ONLY IF LARGE QUANTITIES EATEN. Vomiting, stupor, weakness, spasms.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Cardiac glycosides and resinoids
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Seeds
    Stems