Asclepias verticillata (Whorled Milkweed)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Apocynaceae (Dogbane)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; dry fields, prairies, sandy open woods, roadsides
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:1 to 2 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: UPL
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: flat

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in rounded clusters 1 to 3 inches across that arise from the leaf axils in the upper part of the plant, and at the top of the plant. Each cluster usually has 10 to 20 flowers. Individual flowers are about ¼ long, have a 5-parted crown with a curved horn projecting out of each of the 5 short hoods, arching over the tall column in the center. 5 light green petals bent downward and flare out beneath.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are up to 3 inches long and very narrow, less than 1/8 inch wide, with a prominent central vein. Whorls of 3 to 6 leaves are densely packed along the stem but spread out as the plant matures. Leaves initially point up but become more horizontal or turned downward with age. The stem is slender and has fine hairy lines that extend down from the base of the leaves.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a spindly pod 3 to 4 inches long containing numerous flat brown seeds, each with a tuft of white hair to carry it off in the wind.


All Asclepias were formerly in family Asclepiadaceae but have been reassigned to Apocynaceae (Dogbane).

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County, and along Hwy 61 in Goodhue County.


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

Posted by: Julie - Elk River, MN (Sherburne Co.)
on: 2009-08-14 19:54:35

I have about 50 plants of these growing in my backyard where we haven't cut for about 5 years. This is the first year I've noticed them.

Posted by: Randall - St. Paul
on: 2010-08-01 20:00:57

There is a small meadow with compacted soil with patches of standing water off the railroad track in my neighborhood. Whorled milkweed grows there. I tried to get some going in my garden but to no avail.

Posted by: Michael - Elk River
on: 2011-09-01 01:11:01

in Crow Hassan Park, near Saint Michael. I have often noticed the plant and thought to myself it looked a lot like a very strange milkweed ...discovering the variety of milkweeds has been fun. Thanks!

Posted by: Steve - Louisville Swamp Minnesota Nat'l Wildlife Refuge
on: 2012-07-01 06:02:26

Fairly profuse along trails June 29th.

Posted by: Gabriel - South Minneapolis
on: 2014-06-11 14:56:51

I've seen this plant at various places on trips out west. I thought it was cool because it's so tiny and intricate, and I wanted to grow it. I bought some from the Friends School Plant Sale and planted it on the hill in front of our house, along with other short natives such as field pussytoes, pasqueflower, wild petunia, and blue-eyed grass. It spreads by white fleshy rhizomes a few inches underground like common milkweed, but it's not as much of a nuisance since it's small, slender, and relatively inconspicuous until it blooms and produces long seed pods. I've seen monarch caterpillars on it a few times, but none have grown to maturity. I enjoy the plant, and would highly recommend it for growing in the garden among other short natives of dry prairies.

Posted by: Paul - SAINT PAUL
on: 2014-07-13 21:16:33

Blooming in the thousands at Ottawa Bluffs, LeSueur County, 12 July 2014.

Posted by: linda - Shooting Star Prairie SNA
on: 2015-08-22 09:37:07

Found on a guided tour of area on 8-8-15.

Posted by: KC - St Peter/Nicollet County
on: 2019-07-27 23:50:28

My front 10 or so cares is filled with it.....just on the other side of the river from the Ottawa Bluffs!

Posted by: Tim Johnson - Oxbow Park north arm in Champlin, MN
on: 2019-09-11 11:41:42

A patch in very dry sandy soil with heavy pollinator visitation lasting several weeks.

Posted by: Cindy Angerhofer - Circle Pines
on: 2020-09-01 22:38:50

I just found a patch of a dozen or so plants in a grassy meadow near the Rice Creek trail. I'm so used to seeing white snakeroot flowers everywhere so almost overlooked them. Beautiful!

Posted by: C Creeger - Rock county/extreme SW Minnesota
on: 2020-09-14 18:56:27

I love seeing this in the wild, but volunteers started in my perennial beds and it is spreading despite my efforts to eradicate it. I don't want to use RoundUp but I'm getting desperate.

Posted by: Brett W - Sherburne County
on: 2023-08-09 21:22:49

Found along a dirt road in Sand Dunes SF. First time seeing, only a couple of plants blooming.

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