Asclepis syriaca (Common Milkweed)

The primary food source for Monarch Butterfly larvae, Common Milkweed are typically found growing in disturbed sites. They don’t compete well against other vegetation, although they can create formidable colonies through rhizome division and seeds.

Asclepis syriaca (Common Milkweed)
Deciduous: yes
Hardiness Zones: 3-9
Height: 60-90 centimeters (24-36 inches, rarely to 1.8 meters (6 feet)) tall
Diameter: 22-30 centimeters (9-12 inches) wide
Growth Rate: moderate
Age: perennial
Root System: extensive lateral roots with rhizomes, moderately deep
Family: Asclepiadaceae
Subspecies: none

Tolerates: dry soil, rocky soil, drought, erosion herbivores (deer)
Problems (major): none
Problems (minor): These don’t compete well with other vegetation, so they live mostly in disturbed sites.
Poisonous: moderate, edible if carefully and thoroughly cooked

Soil requirements: prefers well-drained soils, light/sandy to medium/loamy
Air requirements: not sufficiently researched
Watering requirement: low to moderate
Sun requirement: full sun

Leaf shape: long ovate or oblong, light green with red venation
Leaf size: to 20 centimeters (8 inches) long
Flower structure: pendulous umbels with white, pink, or purple flowers
Flowering frequency: June-August
Fruits: oddly shaped, greenish when new to gray when mature, open in September, bluntly spiky
Seeds: white lacy strings/wings, light to dark brown seed
Subterranean storage organ: rhizome
Monocot/Dicot: dicot
Annual/Biennial/Perennial: perennial

Notable characteristics:
The rhizomes spread rapidly, and self-seeding may produce colonies. White hairs are present on the stems and leaves and
very noticeable on seed pods/fruits.

These plants are the primary food source for monarch butterfly larvae.

Sources used:

mmature seed pods

Foliage and seed pods


All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that
this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.


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