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(Asclepias sullivantii)
Sullivant’s Milkweed

Host Plant: Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus)

Nectar Plant: Monarchs, and other butterflies and insects

Flower Color: Pink-purple

Growth Habit: herbaceous perennial that grows 2 to 3 feet tall

Range in North America: Upper Midwest and Ontario

Exposure: Full sun

Hardiness: Zones 3-7

Soil Requirements: moist to mesic soil

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Sullivant’s Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii)

Pink flowers of Sullivant's milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) in a field.
Sullivant’s Milkweed — Asclepias sullivantii Engelm. ex A.Gray observed in United States of America
by Nancy Navarre (licensed under CC0 1.0)

Alternative Names

Prairie Milkweed and Smooth Milkweed

Description of Sullivant’s Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii)

Sullivant’s Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii), a member of the Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family), is a herbaceous perennial that grows from 2 to 3 feet tall and has pink to purple flowers that bloom in the late spring and summer (roughly June to August). The leaves are simple, opposite, entire, ovate in shape, somewhat succulent, and are 3-6 inches in length and 1-3 inches wide. The leaves are also sessile to somewhat clasping. This plant grows in zones 3-7 and likes open areas with full sun that have moist to mesic soil. This plant, which is often found in prairies, hence one of the alternative names, and is similar to the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Sullivant’s milkweed has smooth stems, while the common milkweed does not. Sullivant’s Milkweed is considered rare in a lot of the states in which it occurs.

More information about Sullivant’s milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) can be found in this blog post.

Hosted Species

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) on orange flower.
Monarch Butterfly on Orange Flower — ALAN SCHMIERER from southeast AZ, USA, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus)

Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus) on a branch.
Queen Butterfly on Branch — Korall, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nectar Species

Many species of bees and the Ruby-throated hummingbird use this plant as a nectar source.


This milkweed grows in prairies, moist meadows near watercourses, railroads, and roadside depressions.

Range of Sullivant’s Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) in the United States and Canada

Range map of Sullivant's Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) in the United States and Canada.

Interesting Facts

The genus name, Asclepias, is the Greek name for the God of Medicine.  The species name, sullivantii, is in honor of William Starling Sullivant, an American-botanist (Missouri Botanical Garden).

Native Location

Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone

Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5, Zone 6, Zone 7

Exposure Requirements

Full Sun

Plant Habit


Soil Requirements

Medium, Moist

Hosted Species

Danaus gilippus (Queen), Danaus plexippus (Monarch)


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