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ASCLEPIAS syriaca

Image of Asclepias syriaca

James H. Schutte

Family

Asclepiadaceae

Botanical Name

ASCLEPIAS syriaca

Plant Common Name

Common Milkweed

General Description

A host plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars, common milkweed is a tall, upright, vigorously spreading herbaceous perennial from eastern and central North America. In late spring its wandering underground rhizomes send up tough fibrous thigh-high stems with large leathery oval leaves. Cut stems bleed milky sap. Domed heads of sweet-scented, dull purplish-pink flowers appear at the stem tips and leaf axils in early summer. Butterflies flock to the blooms. Large green flask-shaped seedpods follow the flowers, maturing to tan. They split lengthwise in fall to release brown seeds that float away on white down.

Common milkweed thrives in sun and well-drained soil. This aggressive spreader is best reserved for meadow plantings and other areas where it can roam freely. It makes a perfect choice for large butterfly gardens.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 2

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 9

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    2'-4' / 0.6m - 1.2m

  • Width

    5'-20' / 1.5m - 6.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Central United States, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Purple, Pink

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Light Yellow

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes