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Asclepias syriaca

Asclepias syriaca L.

Asclepias intermedia Vail

Asclepias kansana Vail

Asclepias syriaca L. var. kansana (Vail) Palmer & Steyerm.

Common Milkweed, Milkweed

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderGentianalesGentians, coffee, gardenias, frangipani, many others
FamilyAsclepiadaceaeIncludes some herbs, twining shrubs, lianas, leafless stem succulents, rarely trees
GenusAsclepiasFor Asklepios, the Greek god of healing
Speciessyriaca“Syrian”

About plant names...

The most common of 22 milkweed species in North America, Asclepias syriaca occurs throughout the midwest and east. Milkweeds are so named because nearly all of them exude a sticky latex when cut. The latex contains glycosides that protect against most insects, but Monarch caterpillers not only feed on milkweeds but become poisonous to their own predators because of it.

Identification: Plants are up to 3' (1 m) tall, rarely up to 6½' (2 m), on an erect stem that is green or patched with dark red. Leaves are dull green, usually opposite, up to 8" (20 cm) × 3½" (8.9 cm). Hemispherical groups of pinkish purple flowers have a scent similar to that of violets or pansies. The individual flowers are star-shaped, about ⅛" (4 mm) across, with five petals. Milkweed seed pods, and the thousands of silky parachutes that emerge from them in late fall, are unique. The pods are 2-4" (5-10 cm) in length.

A munching monarch caterpillar, and a newly hatched butterfly. Monarch caterpillars are immune to the poisonous latex, and eat milkweeds exclusively. Photos courtesy of Heather A. Kent.

Online References:

Asclepias syriaca on the USDA Plants Database

Asclepias syriaca at Purdue University's Center for New Crops and Plants Products

Asclepias syriaca at Illinois Wildflowers

Asclepias syriaca on Missouriplants.com

Asclepias syriaca on Wikipedia

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

6/21/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (22 × 14 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

Monarch butterfly caterpillars aren't the only insects who dine on milkweed. These are oleander aphids (Aphis nerii) · 8/2/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 3½ × 4½" (9 × 12 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

9/3/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 14 × 19" (34 × 47 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

9/3/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 13 × 13" (31 × 34 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

6/24/2015 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Ctr, Groton, MA
≈ 8 × 6" (20 × 14 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

6/23/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, East Pepperell, Pepperell, MA
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 10 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

6/24/2015 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Ctr, Groton, MA
≈ 7 × 4½" (18 × 12 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

That's a red milkweed beetle (Tetraopes tetraopthalmus) · 7/5/2010 · Tarrywile Park and Mansion, Danbury, CT
≈ 3 × 3" (8.3 × 8 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

9/25/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, near Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

6/27/2016 · Nashua River Rail Trail, near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

8/4/2009 · Near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 13 × 9" (33 × 22 cm)

Asclepias syriaca description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 7 Jul 2017.

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Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

8/15/2015 · Grafton Notch State Park, Newry, Maine
≈ 7 × 4½" (18 × 12 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

6/23/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, East Pepperell, Pepperell, MA
≈ 3 × 4½" (7.9 × 11 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

The munchers are milkweed tussock caterpillars (Euchaetes egle). · 9/17/2013 · Andres Institute of Art, Big Bear Mountain, Brookline, NH
≈ 3 × 3" (7.6 × 7.8 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

6/12/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, East Pepperell, MA
≈ 6 × 4" (16 × 10 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

6/24/2015 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Ctr, Groton, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 12 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

7/4/2017 · Kibby Climb, Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, NH
≈ 6 × 4" (16 × 11 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

6/27/2016 · Nashua River Rail Trail, near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

7/4/2017 · Kibby Climb, Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, NH
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 10 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

9/25/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, near Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 11 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

9/3/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 16 × 24" (41 × 62 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

9/3/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 4½ × 7" (11 × 17 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

6/21/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 4½ × 3" (11 × 7.9 cm)

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

6/27/2016 · Nashua River Rail Trail, near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, Milkweed)

9/25/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, near Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm)

Range:

About this map...