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White-stemmed Milkweed Asclepias albicans


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Alternate name: Wax Milkweed

Family: Asclepiadaceae, Milkweed view all from this family

Description Native semi-woody subshrub. Spindly, erect, height usually 3 to 10 feet tall, but known to approach 12 feet. The sticklike branches are mostly naked, the younger ones coated in a waxy residue and a thin layer of woolly hairs. Leaves are ephemeral, growing in whorls of three on the lower branches and falling off after a short time. They are linear in shape and up to one inch long. Flower: many small purple-tinted greenish flowers, held in umbels umbel appearing at the tips of the long branches and sprouting from the sides at nodes. The fruit is a large, long, thick follicle which dangles in bunches.

Warning All plants in the genus Asclepias are probably somewhat toxic, some fatally so, to both humans and animals. The sap of some causes skin irritation in humans. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.

Flower Fall, winter, spring.

Habitat Mojave and Sonoran Desert.

Range California, Arizona, and Baja California.

Discussion Other common names: wax milkweed.