Skip Navigation

Species Search:
FieldGuidesthreatened and/or endangered search resultsthreatened and/or endangered

previous  | next

Showy Milkweed Asclepias speciosa


enlarge +

Showy Milkweed
credit: vicki watkins from USA/CCSA

All Images

2 articles:

Get Our Newsletters


Advanced Search

Family: Asclepiadaceae, Milkweed view all from this family

Description Native herbaceous perennial. Hairy, erect perennial. The large, pointed, bananalike leaves are arranged opposite on the stalklike stem. The eye-catching furry pale pink to pinkish-purple flowers are arranged in thick umbels. Their corollas are reflexed and the central flower parts, five hoods with prominent hooks, are star-shaped. The fruit is a large, rough follicle filled with many flat oval seeds with luxuriant silky plumes.

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 Summer, May to September.

Flower May - September (in south); June - July (in north)

Habitat Moist areas, meadows, and prairies.

Range Western half of North America, east to Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan.

Discussion Many Native American peoples use all parts of this plant for a great number of medicinal uses and ate some parts as a food.

Asclepias speciosa is a specific Monarch butterfly food and habitat plant.

Exposure Preference Sun.

Native Distribution S. Manitoba & w. Minnesota to British Columbia, s. to Texas & California

Site Preference Moist prairies; flood plains

Soil Preference Various soils.