Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed)
|Also known as:||Silkweed, Milkplant|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; wet or dry fields, along shores, edges of woods|
|Bloom season:||June - August|
|Plant height:||2 to 5 feet|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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2-inch round clusters arising from leaf axils in the upper plant. Individual flowers are ½ inch across with a 5-parted crown and 5 downward-curved petals. Flower color ranges from dull pale pink to deep mauve, the tips of the star-shaped crown often cream colored.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are up to 8 inches long and 3 inches wide, generally oval to oblong with a point at the tip and a short stalk, oppositely attached, toothless and softly hairy on the underside. The prominent midrib is creamy white to pink; the side veins on the leaf surface are all connected and do not extend to the edge of the leaf, creating a border effect all around the edge. Stems are hairy to varying degrees and unbranched.
All Asclepias were formerly in family Asclepiadaceae but have been reassigned to Apocynaceae (Dogbane). Common Milkweed can be weedy, producing many offspring and crowding out other plants. This made it a noxious weed (i.e. agricultural pest) in some MN counties. One or two volunteered in my own back yard a few years. The next year a dozen more were sprouting up. I've since yanked it out and have Swamp Milkweed (Aslepias incarnata) taking its place, and lots of Monarch caterpillars calling my back yard home.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Common Milkweed plant
- a roadside colony of Common Milkweed
- more flowers
- unusual white flowers
- more plants
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken along Highway 61 just north of Duluth, and in Anoka County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?