Asclepias lanuginosa (Woolly Milkweed)

Plant Info
Also known as: Side-cluster Milkweed
Family:Apocynaceae (Dogbane)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; dry prairies, open woods, rocky soil
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:10 to 12 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

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

[photo of flowers] 5-petaled, pale green to cream with some purplish out towards tips of the petals. Flowers are ¼ to 1/3 inch long, in a single cluster 1½ to 2½ inches wide at the end of the main stem. Petals are variable from angled outwards and downward (typical) to tightly appressed against the flower stem (atypical, as seen in the leaves photo below). The 5 hoods surrounding the center crown do not extend above the flower center. Unlike most milkweeds, this one has no horns.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaf shape is variable from narrow and long, with a semi-pointed tip (typical) to broadly long and rounded tip (atypical, see more photos below). From this variation it can range from 1/3 to 1¼ inches wide and 1 to 4 inches long. Leaves have fine wooly hairs on both upper and lower surfaces, are toothless, and irregularly spaced on the stem. Stems are weakly erect, unbranched, with 2-3 stems per plant, and are finely woolly.


This milkweed is not common. It is listed as Special Concern in Minnesota, Threatened in Wisconsin and Iowa, Endangered in Illinois, with these four states comprising nearly half of its range. This is a difficult plant to locate even when you know it is there. I have not yet observed a seed pod on this species. All Asclepias were formerly in family Asclepiadaceae but have been reassigned to Apocynaceae (Dogbane).

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken at Gray Cloud Island SNA, Washington County, MN


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

Posted by: Larissa - St. Paul
on: 2014-08-05 20:15:46

Hi--the SNA in Washington County is the "Grey Cloud Dunes SNA."
Larissa Mottl
Central Region SNA Program Coordinator

Posted by: Janet - Owatonna
on: 2015-04-13 10:08:11

I want to plant milkweed for the butterflies. Thanks

Posted by: Linda - Pin Oak SNA
on: 2015-06-21 14:56:49

Found two of these milkweeds in the prairie/hillside areas at Pin Oak SNA

Posted by: Chris
on: 2015-10-30 16:59:28

FYI - This species is not listed as Special Concern in MN (though it should be considered for listing).

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-10-30 20:14:39

Chris is correct - not Special Concern in MN.

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