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Common milkweed

Asclepias syriaca

Asclepias syriaca

Regular price $6.48 USD
Regular price Sale price $6.48 USD
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Size

Sun/shade: Full sun to part shade

Soil moisture: Dry to medium

Height: 2-3'

Spread: 0.5-1'

Flowering period: June to August

Host plant for 12 caterpillar species

With large oval leaves arrayed in almost eerie symmetry, and orbs of pink flowers that give way to strange spiny seed pods, common milkweed has an aura of otherworldly fascination. Extraordinary appearances aside, few plants are more thoroughly connected to their ecological neighbors than is this one, which serves as a nutritional source for over 450 species of insects. The nectar produced by common milkweed’s rose-scented flowers is especially sought-after, feeding numerous species of ants, flies, beetles, bees, wasps, and butterflies. The beloved monarch butterfly utilizes common milkweed as a nectar source as well as a food source for its caterpillars, who consume the plant’s leaves. Among bees, common milkweed provides nectar to bumblebees, cuckoo bees, sweat bees, and leafcutter bees.

The plant is quite competitive, spreading by long rhizomes (i.e., underground, horizontal stems) to send up new above-ground growth and form large colonies. Within its native NE Ohio range, common milkweed’s natural habitats consist of sunny locations such as meadows with average to moderately dry soil. The plant establishes readily following disturbance, and is therefore frequently found in human-modified environments such as roadsides and urban lots. At maturity, common milkweed ranges from 3-6 feet in height, and it produces its semi-spherical to spherical clusters of flowers for 4-6 weeks during midsummer.

Photo by Ashley Keesling.

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