milkweed

(Asclepias spp.)

               
Overview

Asclepias is a genus of perennial flowering plants. There are more than 200 species worldwide, at least 76 species in North America north of Mexico, and fourteen species in Minnesota. The common name “milkweed” refers to the white milky sap. The sap contains cardiac glycosides, and most species are poisonous. Milkweeds are the hosts for monarch butterfly larva. The genus is named after the Greek god of healing, Asclepius.

milkweed (Asclepias sp.)

Photo by Alfredo Colon
Identification

Milkweeds have opposite or whorled leaves on short leaf stalks; milky latex; inflorescences of umbel-like, many-flowered cymes; and a complex flower structure consisting on an erect cup surrounding, in most species, a prolonged horn.

See Subordinate Taxa below for identification information.

 
Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28, 29, 30.

 
Comments

 

 
Taxonomy

Family:

Apocynaceae (dogbane)

 

Subfamily:

Asclepiadoideae

 

Tribe:

Asclepiadeae

 

Subtribe:

Asclepiadinae

 

Genus:

Asclepias (milkweed)

 
Subordinate Taxa

butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa ssp. interior)

clasping milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis)

common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

four-leaved milkweed (Asclepias quadrifolia) ?

green milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora)

narrow-leaved milkweed (Asclepias stenophylla)

oval-leaf milkweed (Asclepias ovalifolia)

poke milkweed (Asclepias exaltata)

prairie milkweed (Asclepias hirtella)

purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens)

showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)

Sullivant’s milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii)

swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata ssp. incarnata)

whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)

woolly milkweed (Asclepias lanuginosa)

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

milkweed

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       
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Alfredo Colon
       
  milkweed (Asclepias sp.)   milkweed (Asclepias sp.)
       
Robert Briggs
       
  milkweed (Asclepias sp.)    
       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   

butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa ssp. interior)

  butterfly weed   butterfly weed
       

common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

  common milkweed   common milkweed
       

green milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora)

  green milkweed   green milkweed
       

oval-leaf milkweed (Asclepias ovalifolia)

  dwarf milkweed   dwarf milkweed
       

poke milkweed (Asclepias exaltata)

  poke milkweed   poke milkweed
       

showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)

  showy milkweed   showy milkweed
       

Sullivant’s milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii)

  Sullivant’s milkweed   Sullivant’s milkweed
       

swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata ssp. incarnata)

  swamp milkweed   swamp milkweed
       

whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)

  whorled milkweed   whorled milkweed
       

 

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Alfredo Colon
8/8/2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

milkweed (Asclepias sp.)


Robert Briggs
10/19/2016

Location: Southern River Trail, Afton State Park.

milkweed (Asclepias sp.)


     
     
 
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Binoculars


Created: 11/6/2019

Last Updated:

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