Asclepias speciosa (Showy Milkweed)
|Also known as:|
|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):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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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:
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).
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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?