Asclepias speciosa (Showy Milkweed)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Apocynaceae (Dogbane)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; wet prairies, along shores
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:2 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] Spidery balls of soft purple to almost hot pink flowers each ¾ to 1½ inches long, this milkweed has come by its name honestly. 2 to 4 flower clusters emerge from upper leaf axils and can be 3 inches across. The 5 long, light pink hoods are nearly three times the length of the central flower column and angled out and up, extending beyond the radius of the 5 petals below them. The horns are long and slender, curved in lightly over the top of the flower column but do not reach the center or touch one another.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are generally oval, up to 4 inches wide by 8 inches long, broad at the base to finely pointed at the tips, with a reddish mid-vein and little or no leaf stem. Leaf undersides are also hairy with upper surface velvety to smooth on the upper. Leaf edges are toothless, but may be somewhat wavy. This is a colonial species from roots with sturdy stems covered in fine hairs.


While the native range is throughout the entire western half of North America it is a decidedly western species in Minnesota most common in remnant wet prairies of the Red River Valley. Showing up in the nursery trade, it requires richer loamy soils and adequate moisture. All Asclepias were formerly in family Asclepiadaceae but have been reassigned to Apocynaceae (Dogbane).

Please visit our sponsors

  • Wild Ones Twin Cities Chapter

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Shop for native seeds and plants at!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water

More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken on a wet prairie in Polk County


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Terry - Ashby, MN near Pelican Lake
on: 2013-08-01 00:02:49

I found this plant on a State Land Preserve on the east side of Pelican Lake near Ashby. Beautiful! Your site helped me identify it, thank you.

Posted by: Brian - St. Peter
on: 2015-07-11 10:43:32

I saw two plants of this species in bloom at Schaefer Prairie (The Nature Conservancy) in McLeod County on July 10.

Posted by: James - Felton Prairie
on: 2017-07-17 09:04:50

Showy milkweed is the most common type of milkweed in the Assiniboia Skipper Unit section of Felton Prairie and is extremely abundant.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.